Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Blendtec. All recipes and opinions are my own.

Get your gingerbread fix with this smooth, creamy gingerbread pecan butter, and a healthy, protein-packed gingerbread smoothie. Both are so easy to make, you’ll be eating them over and over again!

Stay tuned to the end of this post for an amazing BLENDTEC GIVEAWAY!!

Gingerbread Pecan Butter: Smooth, and creamy roasted pecan butter with all the flavor of a classic ginger molasses cookie
Gingerbread Smoothie: A healthy. protein-packed way to get your gingerbread fix!

So I get excited for pretty much every holiday flavor, but gingerbread is the one I always go crazy with. Ginger molasses cookies, ginger molasses cake, gingerbread ALL THE THINGS!

Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

Okay so first let’s chat about this gingerbread pecan butter. It’s been a while since I shared a new nut butter. I usually just stick to my normal salted almond butter or honey roasted peanut butter, but I wanted to try something a little different. I’ve made pecan butter once before and it turned out so amazing, so I was super excited to use it again with some ginger and molasses.   Gingerbread Pecan Butter: Smooth, and creamy roasted pecan butter with all the flavor of a classic ginger molasses cookie The result is so smooth, creamy and gingerbread-y! I tried to keep the sugar level down, so if you want more of a dessert spread, I suggest adding a little more brown sugar. This is pecan butter with a gingerbread flavor, not like a cookie butter or nutella type spread. I’ve been spreading it on my waffles with pumpkin butter, and let me tell you, that combo is pretty fantastic.   Gingerbread Pecan Butter: Smooth, and creamy roasted pecan butter with all the flavor of a classic ginger molasses cookie I also used it to make this gingerbread smoothie! Blenders are most commonly used for smoothies, even though the good ones, like this Blendtec Designer 725, can do so much more! I also used the Blendtec Twister Jar to make this pecan butter, and then used the Blendtec WildSide Jar to make this smoothie, but you can make soups, blend ice cream bases, grind nuts to make things like almond meal, and so much more! These two recipes are just the tip of the iceberg!   Gingerbread Smoothie: A healthy. protein-packed way to get your gingerbread fix! Okay, back to the smoothie. It is protein-packed without protein powder. I have a confession that will probably get me booted from all of my fitness friend circles, but I’m just not into protein powder. There was a time (a long time) where I used it because I thought I was “supposed to”, ya know, to be “healthy”, but I honestly just prefer to get my protein naturally in my diet, and I never seem to have a problem getting enough. In fact, getting enough anything when it comes to food has never been my problem, if ya know what I mean. ;) Gingerbread Smoothie: A healthy. protein-packed way to get your gingerbread fix! Anyway, the smoothie, again, is not a dessert smoothie. It has a natural tartness from the Greek yogurt, and I wanted to use the sweetness from the banana with just a hint of molasses. Trust me, a little molasses goes a long way, so if you want a sweet smoothie, I recommend adding a little brown sugar. Otherwise, like the pecan butter, it is a healthy smoothie with gingerbread flavors, not like a gingerbread milkshake (which now I also want to make in my Blendtec ;) ).  

Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 cups pecan butter; 1 smoothie

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons pecan butter; 1 smoothie

Gingerbread Pecan Butter & Gingerbread Smoothie

Ingredients

    For the Gingerbread Pecan Butter:
  • 3 cups roasted pecans
  • 1 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • For the Gingerbread Smoothie:
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt (or dairy-free alternative)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • big handful ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon gingerbread pecan butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Instructions

    To make the Gingerbread Pecan Butter:
  1. Place roasted pecans in a high quality blender or food processor (such as Blendtec) and blend/process until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add molasses, brown sugar and spices and blend/process until smooth and combined. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks at room temperature.
  2. To make the Gingerbread Smoothie:
  3. Place all ingredients in a high quality blender (such as Blendtec) and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
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 Wait! There’s more! Blendtec has generously offered to give away an extra Designer 725 model with Wildisde+ Jar plus an additional Wildside+ Jar! That’s a $750 value! I know you guys will love it as much as I do. Good luck! Giveaway starts at 10:00pm MST November 24th 2014 and ends at 11:59 pm MST December 3rd 2014. Open to US residents age 18 and older.  

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This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Blendtec.

Salted Caramel Mocha Banana Bread

Salted Caramel Mocha Banana Bread: Your favorite cold weather beverage in a decadent banana bread! {gf}

Ultra soft banana bread with espresso, dark chocolate and a salted caramel swirl. All the flavors of your favorite cold weather beverage turned into your new favorite banana bread.

Salted Caramel Mocha Banana Bread: Your favorite cold weather beverage in a decadent banana bread! {gf}

So I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I have this teeny, tiny, huge, ridiculous obsession with salted desserts. It all started when Starbucks first released their salted caramel mocha. I turned my nose up, and asked the barista if that was even good. She must have been really convincing because I wasn’t one for trying new things back then, but for some reason I gave it a shot. That was a big mistake.

Salted Caramel Mocha Banana Bread: Your favorite cold weather beverage in a decadent banana bread! {gf}

I’m pretty sure I ended up drinking at least one daily for that entire winter. Ya know that whole balance/self control thing? I don’t really have it. This year I rediscovered Bahama Bucks, and all of the sudden I was going multiple times per week. I am the biggest weakling when it comes to my sweet tooth.

Salted Caramel Mocha Banana Bread: Your favorite cold weather beverage in a decadent banana bread! {gf}

As much as I love dessert, I love the bite and depth of flavor that adding a little salt brings. I don’t love things that are too sweet. Steve drinks his coffee with like 700 sweet ‘n lows (also…really? Why would anyone choose the pink packets???) in his coffee and it always grosses me out! You also won’t find me digging into those loft house sugar cookies that taste like they are made entirely of frosting. I like my dessert with a little attitude.

Salted Caramel Mocha Banana Bread: Your favorite cold weather beverage in a decadent banana bread! {gf}

I must not be alone because this is one of the most popular desserts I have ever made. I brought the leftovers into work and it disappeared in minutes. Everyone kept raving about it and asking for the recipe! So soft, tender and decadent, this will be your go-to snack for to make for your out of town guests this whole holiday season!

 

Salted Caramel Mocha Banana Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 12-16 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice

Salted Caramel Mocha Banana Bread

Ultra soft banana bread with espresso, dark chocolate and a salted caramel swirl. All the flavors of your favorite cold weather beverage turned into your new favorite banana bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 extra ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup fleur de sel caramel sauce* (+ more for drizzling)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x5" loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking blend, cocoa powder, cornstarch, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together bananas, applesauce, sugars and vanilla until well combined. Stir in half the flour mixture, then buttermilk, then remaining flour mixture.
  3. Transfer half the batter to prepared loaf pan. Pour caramel sauce on top, then add remaining batter. Use a butter knife to gently swirl caramel into the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about one hour. Set loaf pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Serve drizzled with extra fleur de sel caramel sauce, if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Notes

*To make vegan, replace buttermilk with 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and use a vegan salted caramel sauce.

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Roasted Banana Streusel Muffins

Roasted Banana Streusel Muffins

Ultra soft and tender banana muffins are made with roasted banana and topped with crunchy cinnamon streusel. Healthy, vegan and gluten-free.

Roasted Banana Streusel Muffins

Husband: Are you blogging? Me: Kinda…I was just staring at the screen….I don’t have anything to say…. Husband: That’s a first! (goes to post about it on facebook). Rude.

Roasted Banana Streusel Muffins

Okay, that’s a lie. I have a lot to say, but only on one subject. It’s peak training week, and I only want to talk about running and the NYC Marathon, and how it’s like 3.5 weeks away. But I’m pretty sure the entire world (or at least my immediate world) is a little over my tunnel vision running chats.

Roasted Banana Streusel Muffins

Although, I have to say, I never turn down the opportunity to talk about food. In fact, most of my time spent training (no matter what sport) is spent thinking about food. When Nicole and I were training for our first marathon, we would get through all the long runs by talking about what we were going to eat for dinner afterwards. We would also talk about recipe development, and whenever we got really excited about it, all of the sudden we’d realize our pace was way faster. What can I say? I’m totally motivated by food.

Roasted Banana Streusel Muffins

I made these as a gift for our neighbors. When we went to Tucson this summer for a triathlon, we came back to realize our water was off. I called and gave the water company a few choice words about how we had paid our bill, and I didn’t appreciate having our water turned off. We always turn off the water inside the house (we have a history of leaks…it’s fun…), but this was the outside water. So, as I’m yelling at them, I hear Steve outside talking to our neighbors, and I realize they had turned off our water, not the water company. Whoops.

Roasted Banana Streusel Muffins

Apparently, we had sprung a huge leak OUTSIDE, and after hours of it running into the street, they had come over and turned the water off for us. They were super cool about it, but I insisted on doing at least something to thank them, so I made these muffins. I love banana muffins/bread/cake/etc., and I’ve made a lot of variations, but I wanted to make these special, so I roasted the bananas first, and the deep flavor that comes from roasting them was so amazing. Sweeter, deeper banana flavor, and with the perfect crumb, these are the perfect way to say thank you. To other people, or to yourself. ;)

Roasted Banana Streusel Muffins

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1 dozen

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Roasted Banana Streusel Muffins

Ultra soft and tender banana muffins are made with roasted banana and topped with crunchy cinnamon streusel. Healthy, vegan and gluten-free.

Ingredients

    For the roasted bananas:
  • 3 ripe medium bananas, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • For the muffins:
  • 2 cups gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • For the cinnamon streusel:
  • 1/3 cup quick oats (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • dash salt

Instructions

  1. Start by roasting the bananas. Preheat oven to 400. Toss banana slices, coconut oil and 1/3 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl. Transfer to a rimmed baking dish and bake until soft and syrupy, about 15 minutes, tossing half way through. Watch carefully so that banana does not burn. Let cool. Lower oven temperature to 350.
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Gently spray with nonstick spray to avoid sticking. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together baking blend, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together roasted banana (including all the syrup in the dish), 1/3 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar and applesauce until combined. Beat in half the dry ingredients, then almond milk, followed by the remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Evenly divide between batter between 12 prepared muffin tins.
  4. To make the streusel, combine all ingredients together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 20-25 minutes. Cool completely. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days.
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Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes {vegan + gluten-free}

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

With all the flavor of your favorite fall beverage, these pumpkin spice latte cupcakes are the perfect treat! Vegan, gluten-free and lightened up but with 100% of the taste–they are a dessert everyone will love!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes: Vegan, gluten-free and lightened up but with ALL of the flavor!

My husband is so weird. Every time I start baking he asks me what I’m making. Lately, the answer starts with pumpkin, then he groans and goes on and on about how he supposedly doesn’t like pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes: Vegan, gluten-free and lightened up but with ALL of the flavor!

Then as soon as whatever I’m making is ready, he’s digging in, and going on about how good it is! I don’t understand him. I think he just likes to say he hates pumpkin because he knows I’m obsessed with it. Sometimes I make pumpkin muffins in July. True story.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes: Vegan, gluten-free and lightened up but with ALL of the flavor!

Even in my quest for new pumpkin recipes all year long, I always come back to these cupcakes every fall. I’ve made them over and over, and this year I wanted to make a version that was both vegan and gluten-free so that all of my friends could enjoy them with me. Even my silly pumpkin hating husband (who, btw, ate his fair share!).

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes: Vegan, gluten-free and lightened up but with ALL of the flavor!

Simple, easy pumpkin cupcakes spiked with a little espresso powder then brushed with coffee create the perfect pumpkin spice latte flavor and ultra soft texture. Topped with freshly whipped coconut cream (or regular whipped cream if you prefer) — they are just like your favorite fall coffee indulgence in cupcake form!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes: Vegan, gluten-free and lightened up but with ALL of the flavor!

Also, if you want to make them even more dreamy, add a teaspoon of cinnamon to your whipped topping. You will thank me later. ;)

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes {vegan + gluten-free}

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 1 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes {vegan + gluten-free}

With all the flavor of your favorite fall beverage, these pumpkin spice latte cupcakes are the perfect treat! Vegan, gluten-free and lightened up but with 100% of the taste--they are a dessert everyone will love!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee or espresso for brushing
  • whipped coconut cream (or regular whipped cream if not vegan) for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugars, and apple sauce. Add almond milk and dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Fill lined muffin tin 3/4 full with batter and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. You want them to be fully cooked with no crumbs sticking to the toothpick, otherwise they will be mushy. Cool completely.
  5. Pierce each cupcake 2-3 times with a fork, then brush cupcakes with fresh coffee. Top with whipped coconut cream or regular freshly whipped cream (add some cinnamon to it for an even more delicious topping). Keep leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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Pumpkin Irish Cream

Pumpkin Irish Cream: Like pumpkin pie in cocktail form!

Rich and creamy homemade Irish cream with a fall kick! Pureed pumpkin + pumpkin pie spice make this taste like pumpkin pie in cocktail form! Shhh it’s secretly lightened up and vegan.

Pumpkin Irish Cream: Like pumpkin pie in cocktail form!

Youuuuu guuuyyyyys! I have been waiting almost an entire year to share this recipe with you! For the last two weeks, I’ve been asking my husband if it’s “fall enough” yet to post it, and his response, as someone who could care less about pumpkin, and could care even less about when I post things on my blog, is to shrug his shoulders and hardly reply. So, I’ve decided. It’s fall enough. Here we go.

Pumpkin Irish Cream: Like pumpkin pie in cocktail form!

Last year, I started experimenting more with homemade liqueurs and cocktails thanks to my drink-spiration, and I made a huge batch of this baby for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t believe what a huge hit it became! My family couldn’t get enough, and even my family members who don’t generally drink kept coming back for more.

Pumpkin Irish Cream: Like pumpkin pie in cocktail form!

I even had a signature Thanksgiving drink where I mixed the Pumpkin Irish Cream with Pumpkin Pie Vodka (<– OMG a MUST try!) and a spiced simple syrup (<–not that exact one, but similar). There are seriously no words. Everyone thought I was super fancy, but the truth is, the recipe is so so easy. In fact, it takes less time than going to the store to buy a bottle of Irish cream!

Pumpkin Irish Cream: Like pumpkin pie in cocktail form!

One thing I love about making Irish cream at home is that I can control what goes into it. This stuff has just a handful of ingredients including pure pumpkin puree and a homemade vegan sweetened condensed milk.

Pumpkin Irish Cream: Like pumpkin pie in cocktail form!

The result is strong, rich, creamy and filled with pumpkin flavor without overwhelming the non pumpkin lovers (why do these people exist??) in your life. You will want to drink it all fall year long, and I’m pretty certain it will become a staple at your Thanksgiving also!

Pumpkin Irish Cream

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: approx 3 1/2 cups

Pumpkin Irish Cream

Rich and creamy homemade Irish cream with a fall kick! Pureed pumpkin + pumpkin pie spice make this taste like pumpkin pie in cocktail form! Shhh it's secretly lightened up and vegan.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Irish whiskey
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Store refrigerated in an airtight contain for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

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Creamy Frozen Coconut Margaritas

Creamy Frozen Coconut Margarita

Thick and creamy frozen coconut margaritas beat anything you could order at a restaurant. Naturally sweetened with no sour mix, and blended with ultra creamy coconut milk.

Creamy Frozen Coconut Margarita

Is it bad that I just had a 3 day weekend and all I can think about is the next 3 day weekend? To be fair, my long “weekend” was mostly spent in the back of a van. Oh, and ya know, running to Seaside.

Creamy Frozen Coconut Margarita

If you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember that I ran Hood to Coast last year. Or…at least I ran some of it. After being out for 6 months with an injury, I had just started running again basically from scratch a couple of months before, and the race was just too much too soon. My injury started acting up during my second leg, and I knew if I wanted to avoid an other 6 months on the sidelines, I had to step back.

Creamy Frozen Coconut Margarita

It was hard. I took a break from running, rode my first century, and now that I’m almost a year back into running consistently, it was absolutely freaking amazing to go back and finish this year! It was a total whirlwind, and I swear after being awake for a solid 24 hours, I started to lose my shit, but I would do it again in a heartbeat! I mean, like, can we do it again this weekend? Because I’m already missing it.

Creamy Frozen Coconut Margarita

Anyway, after being home for less than 2 weeks, going back to Oregon, running this race, and then landing Monday morning to go straight into work, I am really ready for this 3 day weekend. And I plan to spend it lounging by my pool drinking frozen coconut margaritas. Oh, maybe you’d actually like to know a little bit about them, and not just about how I’m obsessed with relays?

What makes these babies so special is the coconut milk / tequila / orange liquor ICE CUBES! It takes an extra step, but making the coconut milk ice cubes is essential to getting the right creamy texture for your margaritas. We’ll use regular ice too, but too much, and you’ll have a watery mess on your hands. They are also made with a to-die-for coconut simple syrup and they include coconut extract for triple coconut-y flavor! And ya know what? Even my husband who usually hates coconut enjoyed them!

Creamy Frozen Coconut Margaritas

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours

Yield: 6 margaritas

Serving Size: 1 margarita

Creamy Frozen Coconut Margaritas

Thick and creamy frozen coconut margaritas beat anything you could order at a restaurant. Naturally sweetened with no sour mix, and blended with ultra creamy coconut milk.

Ingredients

    For the coconut milk ice cubes:
  • 1 x 14 ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur (like triple sec, grand marnier, etc.)
  • For the coconut simple syrup:
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 3/4 cup sweetened toasted coconut
  • To make the margaritas:
  • 8 coconut milk ice cubes
  • 2 shots coconut simple syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 handfuls regular ice

Instructions

  1. To make the coconut milk ice cubes, whisk together coconut milk, tequila, and orange liqueur. Transfer to ice cube tray and freeze until solid.
  2. To make the coconut simple syrup, bring water and agave nectar to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add toasted coconut, remove from heat and let sit for 30-60 minutes. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Return to heat and bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool.
  3. To make the margaritas, blend all margarita ingredients together until smooth. Repeat with remaining ingredients when desired.
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them!

 

 

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites {The Recipe ReDux}

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites: Healthy paleo, gluten-free & vegan dessert or snack bites

Rich & fudgy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites are super easy to make with just a handful of wholesome ingredients. They are paleo, gluten-free, vegan and delicious enough to please any crowd!

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites: Healthy paleo, gluten-free & vegan dessert or snack bites

I have a pet peeve. I seriously hate when people call things “brownies” or “cookie dough” when it literally tastes like a protein bar. I’m glad you like it, and I’m sure it really is “OMG so delicious”, but let’s be real for a second: a protein bar does not taste like a brownie. It might taste like a chocolate protein bar that is so good you could enjoy it for dessert, but that does not a brownie make. Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites: Healthy paleo, gluten-free & vegan dessert or snack bites

So, that being said, I almost called these brownie bites. They are so ridiculously rich and fudgy that you could probably call them brownie bites and no one would call you on  it. But, at the end of the day, they do not have the flakey top, and they are more the consistency of cookie dough, so we’ll stick with Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites. Because I am incapable of coming up with a title less than 40 characters long. Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites: Healthy paleo, gluten-free & vegan dessert or snack bites

Okay so while they may not technically be “brownies” that doesn’t stop these little guys from feeling like a totally indulgent treat. In fact, they are like a totally indulgent treat that works like a snack! The ingredients are kind of all rock stars in the way they fill you up and give you energy. I found myself kind of addicted. Every time I wanted something sweet, I kept reaching in the fridge to grab an other one.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites: Healthy paleo, gluten-free & vegan dessert or snack bites

I had to bring them into work because I couldn’t stop, and Steve was so upset that he only got 2. I strongly  suggest you let them sit in the fridge for a few hours. I tried one right after I made them and liked it enough, but the texture is much better cold, and the flavors are even more delicious after they’ve had some time to meld together.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites: Healthy paleo, gluten-free & vegan dessert or snack bites

They are the perfect after school or pre/post workout snack, or you can even grab a couple for breakfast as you’re walking out the door, and they are without a doubt delicious enough to be eaten for dessert too!

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: approx 16 bites

Serving Size: 1 bite

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites

Rich & fudgy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mocha Bites are super easy to make with just a handful of wholesome ingredients. They are paleo, gluten-free, vegan and delicious enough to please any crowd!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup almond butter (or any nut butter of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened but not melted
  • 3 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups almond meal*
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • small pinch sea salt
  • 2/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together almond butter, coconut oil, honey/maple syrup and vanilla until mostly combined. Add almond meal, cocoa powder, espresso powder and sea salt. Use your hands to mix ingredients together. Once dough is mostly formed add chocolate chips and incorporate.
  2. Roll dough into 1-1 1/2" balls (or however large you'd like them). Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

*If you use maple syrup (or even a store bought honey), it will not be as thick and you may need to increase almond meal. If the mixture is still sticking to your hands/the bowl, increase almond meal by 1 tablespoon until you reach the desired texture.

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White Chocolate Cranberry Scones

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones {gluten-free}

Rich, crumbly white chocolate shortbread-like scones filled with sweet and tart dried cranberries are the perfect treat on Christmas morning, or any time year round. Vegan & gluten-free.

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones {gluten-free}

Okay, let’s take a quick break from cookies for a minute. Actually, I have a confession. These were supposed to be cookies. I wanted to make white chocolate cranberry cookies, and I took one of my chocolate cookie recipes and started to modify it, and at the end I looked at the dough and thought “these are not cookies”.

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones {gluten-free}

So I went rogue, and decided they would be scones. I had no idea how they would actually turn out, but as soon as they came out of the oven, I knew I had made the right choice.

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones {gluten-free}

These scones aren’t flakey like a traditional bakery-style scone, but more crumbly like a shortbread. They have that buttery (without butter) melt-in-your-mouth kind of feel, and you will find yourself picking at every last crumb.

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones {gluten-free}

Instead of using white chocolate chips, the white chocolate is melted into the dough so you get tons of delicious white chocolate flavor in every single bite. Ya know when you’re eating something with chocolate chips, and you get a bite without chips? How it’s basically the most disappointing bite ever? Yeah, none of that here.

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones {gluten-free}

And as if there wasn’t enough white chocolate flavor in the scones themselves, of course I had to drizzle a little extra on top because, well, it’s my favorite. I know I should choose dark chocolates, and blah, blah, blah, antioxidants, but I’ve always been a white chocolate girl at heart, and mixed with cranberries? Let’s just say these babies didn’t last long, and I am already craving more!

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6-8 scones

Serving Size: 1 scone

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones

Rich, crumbly white chocolate shortbread-like scones filled with sweet and tart dried cranberries are the perfect treat on Christmas morning, or any time year round. Vegan & gluten-free.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces white chocolate*
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons gluten-free baking blend, or white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a small baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan heat white chocolate and coconut oil over medium heat until melted, stirring constantly. Alternatively, you can heat them in a small bowl in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds stirring after each.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together baking blend, sugars, cornstarch, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in melted white chocolate and coconut oil. Mix in cranberries
  4. Roll dough into a large ball and press down into a 1-1 1/2" thick disk. Cut into 6-8 equal pieces. Do not separate.
  5. Bake as if for 10-12 minutes until golden and set. Set baking dish on wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle extra melted white chocolate if desired, and let set for about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Notes

*For vegan scones, use vegan white chocolate.

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Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

Soft, nutty almond meal cookies with bold eggnog flavor, and melty chunks of dark chocolate. Vegan, gluten-free and unlike any cookie you’ve ever tasted!

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

How do you feel about eggnog? It seems to be one of those holiday things that people either LOVE or find totally disgusting. I never understood how anyone could dislike it, but then again, if I had it my way, I’d eat my cereal with half and half. ;) Rich, thick and creamy has never been something I turn down. In fact, in my, um…less healthy days, I could probably drink a carton of eggnog in one sitting. Okay, now that does actually gross me out now, but that’s how much I love it.

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

But don’t worry, if drinking eggnog isn’t your thing, these cookies have got you covered in the flavor department, without that creamy texture. They also use the soy nog. I’m usually not a big fan of soy anything, but I’m also a big fan of saving calories, and it really is the lightest one around. Not to mention, it means you can share it with all your vegan and lactose intolerant friends. Or keep them all to yourself, because you probably won’t want to share. That’s where using the lowest calorie eggnog comes in handy. ;)

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

If you’ve never had almond meal cookies, they are unlike any other cookie you will ever eat. It’s not one of those times where I’m gonna be like “I swear, it tastes exactly the same!” because it doesn’t, but not in a bad way, but in a totally unique, surprising kind of way. The almond meal gives them tons of texture without having huge chunks of nuts in your cookies. I hate that. I love nuts, but I don’t usually like them in my desserts. I like to save room for things I love more. Like chocolate, which these babies are loaded with.

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

Okay so about the chocolate…You want to use the good stuff. I mean, don’t spend a fortune, but don’t buy one from the check out stand. I always use a salted dark chocolate. It’s my favorite. I’m a 65-75% kinda girl. Some people love their 90%, and I don’t think that’s dessert, but if you like it, more power to you! Pretty much, just use what you like because you will be the one unable to keep your hands off these little gems. On second thought, maybe you should use something you hate…

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies {vegan + gluten-free}

A couple hints before you get started: Don’t worry if the dough seems really wet, and more like muffin batter. It will firm up a bit when it chills, but it still won’t be a traditional cookie dough. Use a scoop if you want your cookies to come out not looking like aliens. You can use a large spoon as well, but the scoop will yield much prettier and more even cookies. DO NOT try to roll them in your hands unless you like doughy fingers. Oh, and if you love these as much as I do, you have got to try this version using Baileys instead of eggnog!

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 2 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies

Soft, nutty almond meal cookies with bold eggnog flavor, and melty chunks of dark chocolate. Vegan, gluten-free and unlike any cookie you've ever tasted!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • dash freshly ground nutmeg
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup soy nog (or light eggnog)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp rum extract
  • 5 oz dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together almond meal, baking soda, cornstarch, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt. Add eggnog and extracts. Mix until well combined. Fold in dark chocolate. Cover and chill for 30-60 minutes
  2. Use a small cookie scoop to drop onto prepared baking pan. Bake until tops just begin to brown, about 11-14 minutes. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
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Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Soft and chewy peanut butter cookies stuffed with melty dark chocolate and covered with powdered sugar–just like an inside out buckeye! Vegan, gluten-free, and seriously addicting.

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

You know it’s Christmas time when I post cookies 3 days in a row. Okay, that’s a lie. I always post cookies. I love cookies. Everyone has their “thing”, their go-to dessert, that one thing they feel like they do significantly better than all other baking. Mine is totally cookies. In fact, I mess up brownies more times than I get them right, and I constantly have to remake cupcakes because I under bake them (because that works with cookies…not so much with cakes…).

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

For part of my segment for Health2Fit (read more about the whole experience here), Natalie asked me to bring in some health(ier) cookies so she could demonstrate some creative ways to package them for swaps. That was awesome for me since I love to bake things, and then I totally fail at packaging in any sort of attractive manner. They were a huge hit at the studio, and everyone said they wouldn’t have been able to tell that they were lightened up, vegan & gluten-free!

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

I’ve made these with both white whole wheat flour, and then more recently with my gluten-free baking blend. The only adjustment for the gluten-free version included baking time. They cooked about 1-2 minutes quicker than the original. In fact, the first batch I second guessed myself, left them in too long, and ended up with overly chewy (not the good kind of chewy), flat cookies. I was worried that they wouldn’t work, but the next batch, I took out as soon as they set, and they were awesome! Not quiiiite as puffy as these, but certainly not flat, and the taste was identical.

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Oh, and I guess maybe we should discuss what buckeyes actually are? Because I had no idea until the last year when I saw them floating around the blog world. It’s kind of like a Reese’s cup crossed with a truffle. They are little balls of peanut butter mixed with powdered sugar covered (mostly) with chocolate, but leaving one little “eye” remaining, So these cookies are…the opposite! Dark chocolate in the middle, with the peanut butter and powdered sugar on the outside. I love melty dark chocolate in the center of my cookies, and I am a peanut butter fanatic. The powdered sugar is that perfect extra touch that makes these cookies the first to go at parties or cookie swaps!

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Inside Out Buckeye Cookies

Soft and chewy peanut butter cookies stuffed with melty dark chocolate and covered with powdered sugar--just like an inside out buckeye! Vegan, gluten-free, and seriously addicting.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup gluten-free baking blend or white whole wheat flour*
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz good quality dark chocolate, in small squares or roughly chopped
  • approx 1/2 cup powdered sugar for rolling ( + more for dusting)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and corn starch. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the apple butter, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in dry ingredients until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Pour powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll dough into 1" balls then press a square of dark chocolate inside. Re-roll dough around chocolate. Make sure no chocolate is showing. Add more dough if necessary. Roll in powdered sugar, then transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake until edges are just set, about 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

*Gluten-free cookies will bake 1-2 minutes faster than if you use white whole wheat flour. Check gf cookies at 7 minutes, and wheat cookies may be in for closer to 11 depending on your oven.

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PS: Don’t forget to check out the segment this Saturday (12/14) @ 11am AZ time. Local channel 7, cable 13.

Drink & Dish: Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Soft baked ginger molasses cookies stuffed with sweet, gooey caramel. These will easily become your new favorite Christmas cookie! Gluten-free with vegan option.

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Would you believe me if I told you that until this year, I had never actually done a cookie swap? Okay, that’s a lie, I did The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap two years ago (And again this year which means you’re getting two…actually 3…days in a row this week. I’m sure you’re devastated.), but I had never done a real life one. I was just always the one giving away all of the cookies. The idea of getting some in return of kind of amazing!

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

This year we did a cookie swap at book club, and that was my first, official, in real life cookie swap. So much deliciousness. Did I tell you I was in a book club? Ummm, I am SO BAD at it. It’s been going on for almost a year? More than a year? And I’ve read 2 books. Well, that’s not even true. I read one book, then when it was my turn I picked my favorite play (August: Osage County), and never got around to rereading it. I just show up, drink wine, and at Christmas time, swap cookies.

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

But seriously, if you’ve sucked at anything in life and want to make up for it, I feel like these cookies might be the key to solving all past mistakes. They *might* be the best cookies I’ve ever made. It’s so hard because cookies are my favorite. As if you couldn’t tell. Most of the time brownies and cupcakes, while delicious, are only mildly tempting, but cookies get me every single time. So clearly, I make them a lot, and these are definitely high on my list.

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

In fact, after I brought them in to work, I had requests for more for practically a week. Pretty much until I made them again for Drink & Dish, and had more leftover cookies to bring in to satisfy everyone’s craving. The sugared edges give them a light crispiness, but the insides are cookie-dough-soft. Almost like if it was a gingerbread brownie on the inside. I can hardly describe it–just think absolute perfect cookie texture. And with soft, melty caramel in the middle? It honestly doesn’t get much better. They are best with homemade caramels. You can see how well homemade caramels melt in these salted caramel mocha cookies. For these I just used store bought because that’s what I had, and ya know what? They still came out awesome. You could also use vegan caramels to make them vegan (captain obvious), or omit the caramels if it’s not your thing. The cookie itself is so good it stands on it’s own.

Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Sooooo, in case you couldn’t tell, the theme of this episode of Drink & Dish is Christmas Cookie Swap! Nicole and I wanted to make sure that you guys had awesome things to bring to all your holiday swaps. Nicole makes a gingerbread martini that is absolutely to die for, and obviously the perfect pairing to these cookies!

These are absolutely a must-make this holiday season, and a great way to spice up your usual ginger molasses fix!

Drink & Dish: Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Drink & Dish: Caramel Stuffed Ginger Molasses Cookies

Soft baked ginger molasses cookies stuffed with sweet, gooey caramel. These will easily become your new favorite Christmas cookie! Gluten-free with vegan option.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 24 caramels*
  • granulated sugar for rolling

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking blend, baking soda, spices and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together apple butter, molasses, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper.Roll dough into approximately 1" balls. Press caramel inside, and roll dough back around. Make sure caramel is completely covered. Add more dough if necessary. Roll in sugar and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Bake until just set, about 9-11 minutes. Cookies will look underdone,. Do not over bake. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Notes

*Use vegan caramels, or omit caramel to keep vegan.

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Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles + a $500 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

Classic cinnamon sugar snickerdoodle cookies made with bold vanilla sugar. Crunchy on the outside with the perfect soft baked texture inside. Vegan and gluten-free, so almost everyone can enjoy!

Psssst: There is a really sweet giveaway at the end of this post that you don’t want to miss!

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

The other day I had a craving for sugar cookies. I almost never make sugar cookies, so it was weird. I asked Steve if he thought that sounded too plain. He thought about it for a second, and then, overly proud of himself for his creative contribution, he said “What about cinnamon sugar cookies???” Silly boy, those are snickerdoodles, and yes, they are awesome.

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

I have always been a huge snickerdoodle fan. Have you ever had those huge ones at Paradise Bakery? I can’t even handle them. I’m pretty sure they use something really awful like shortening to get the texture that perfect.

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

And can we talk about how my screen keeps yelling at me with that awful red squiggly line every time I type the word snickerdoodle? Snickerdoodle, snickerdoodle, snickerdoodle. I even googled it to make sure I wasn’t spelling it wrong. Get with the program, computer, and stop yelling at me!

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

At Healthy Living Summit, my BBFF {blog-best-friend-forever} Nicole gave all the girls in our room this amazing vanilla sugar. It was love at first site smell.

Vanilla Sugar via foodiemisadventures.com

Such a simple idea, but a really easy way to take your baked goods to the next level, especially if you’re as vanilla bean obsessed as I am. More than anything–chocolate, peanut butter, even fro yo, I love all things vanilla bean. It’s such a distinct, clean flavor, and you don’t see it as often as you would think.

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles {vegan & gluten-free}

I thought a lot about what I wanted to use it for, and eventually decided snickerdoodles were the perfect vehicle–with the vanilla sugar baked inside and a crunchy, sweet cinnamon vanilla sugar coating, you get the most out of the vanilla flavor. These were some of the best cookies I’ve ever made, and everyone I gave them too was a huge fan. They have the same perfect texture as my chai snickerdoodles that I loved so much, with just the twist of extra vanilla flavor. They are definitely a must for your holiday cookie exchanges!

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 1/2 - 3 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles

Classic cinnamon sugar snickerdoodle cookies made with bold vanilla sugar. Crunchy on the outside with the perfect soft baked texture inside. Vegan and gluten-free, so almost everyone can enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free baking blend (or 2 cups white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 3/4 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • For coating:
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together apple butter, vanilla sugar, maple syrup, and almond milk until well combined. Add vanilla, then add dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine remaining vanilla sugar and cinnamon for the coating. Lightly spray hands with nonstick spray, then roll dough into one inch balls. Roll in the sugar mixture to coat completely, then transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. They may look underdone, but do not over bake. They will set more as they cool. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

If you do not have vanilla sugar, you can easily combine the seeds with 1/2 vanilla bean with your total 1 cup sugar before baking. Mix together thoroughly, then divide out your 1/4 cup for coating.

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Giveaway details:
The giveaway will be open from Friday December 6th, 2013 until Wednesday December 11th, 2013 (@ 11:59pm EST). You must be 18 years old to enter and you must live in the USA. One winner will receive a $500 Amazon gift card.

Please check out my fellow healthy recipe blogging buddies that are also hosting! They all have amazing recipe, beautiful photos, and lots of greatness to share with you!

Healthy Seasonal Recipes | Running to the Kitchen | Yeah…imma eat that | The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman | Tasty Yummies | Real Food Whole Health | Texanerin Baking | Beard and Bonnet | With Food + Love | So…Let’s Hang Out | Healthy Green Kitchen