4×4 Recipes for the Holidays

It’s officially November which means we are on the cusp of holiday season. Whether for your holiday party, your child’s coach, a cookie swap or just because, we all seem to enjoy baking during the holidays. As a very active person, I am always looking for ways to simplify my life, especially during this time of year. I’m guessing you are too, which is why I’d like to share with you my favorite four 4 ingredient dessert recipes. These aren’t just any desserts, though, they all have one added bonus for the health conscious.

Peanut Butter Cookies (Bonus: Gluten Free)

ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup peanut butter, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla

instructions:

-preheat oven to 350

-line large baking sheet w/parchment paper

-mix the peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla on low speed (or by hand) until well combined

-scoop dough on baking sheet, flatten the dough balls w/fork, making a cross pattern on the cookies

-bake for 10-12 minutes until golden around the edges

-let sit for 2 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Nutella Brownie Mini Muffins (Bonus: Great Recovery Snack)

ingredients: 1/2 cup nutella, 1 large egg, 5 tablespoons whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

instructions:

-preheat oven 350

-put liners in mini muffin pan

-combine nutella and egg in bowl, wisk until smooth

-add flour, wisk until blended

-spoon into muffin tin and sprinkle with hazelnuts

-bake 11-13 mins (tooth pick will come out w/ wet/gooey crumbs)

-cool on rack

Spice Cake (Bonus: Lycopene)

ingredients: spice cake mix, 10 3/4 ounce can tomato soup, 1/2 cup milk or water, 2 eggs

instructions:

-preheat oven 350

-grease and flour 9×13 pan

-mix ingredients on low speed just until combined

-mix additional 2 minutes on medium to high

-pour into pan

-bake 25 mins or until tooth pick can be removed clean

-cool on wire rack for 10 mins

-frost (optional)

Three Musketeers Bars (Bonus: Vegan)

ingredients: 4 cups (diary free) semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 carton (dairy free) whipped topping-thawed, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 teaspoon flavoring of choice (almond, amaretto, mint, etc)

instructions:

-line 8 inch baking pan w/wax paper

-melt 2 cups chocolate chips in microwave (1 minute, stir, continue at 15 min intervals until melted)

-whip whipped topping according to directions

-add whipped topping to melted chocolate and beat until combined and fluffy

-spread into pan

-put in freezer for 30 mins

-remove from pan, cut into squares, return to freezer for another 30 mins

-melt 2 cups of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl (as instructed above)

-add coconut oil and choice of flavoring, stir until smooth

-dip frozen chocolate squares into melted chocolate mixture

-place finished bar on wax paper lined baking tray

-put tray in freezer and allow to set

 

Vegan Recipe: Avocado with Curried Beans, Kale, and Quinoa

After recent blood tests revealed that I have hypothyroidism and an elevated cholesterol level, a dietician suggested some changes that I could make in my diet to improve my health. As a vegan who tries to eat healthily, and as an athlete who runs, rides, and strength trains on a regular basis, I had felt somewhat confident that I was doing everything I could to ensure my excellent health. However after a long consultation, where I was asked about my current diet, supplements, and my exercise level, I was encouraged to try a few things.

vegan recipe

The dietician suggested that I reduce starchy carbs in my diet (okay, I love my potatoes and pasta), and add more vegetables. In addition to adding a couple of supplements, the thing that really knocked my socks off was her suggestion that I try going gluten free for a few weeks!

Carbs and gluten all gone in one swoop. My cereal, my rye toast, not to mention my beloved seitan, a vegan meat substitute that is made from wheat gluten. But, the RD thought that trying a gluten free diet for three weeks might help my cholesterol level as well as my thyroid function. But what really convinced me was that she said that it might help my migraines. Sign me up, I’m in!

I’m only on day two since my consultation. I’m still researching and looking for good sources of information and recipes that are vegan and gluten free. I decided to take a first step by making  a few small changes, like cutting out the cereal, reducing the amount of bread, and starting to read labels. I mean, I always read labels, looking for hidden animal products, but now I’m also looking for wheat, rye, and the other grains that contain gluten. I need a dictionary!

This recipe is my first purposely gluten-free dish. It’s pretty simple, but it turned out delicious. I hope you enjoy it!

Avocado with Curried Beans, Kale, and Quinoa

vegan recipe

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa (dry), prepared according to package directions

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup kale, torn into small pieces, packed loosely

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 or 2 medium avocados, halved

Directions

While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the spices, then add the kale. If the beans seem too dry, add a little water or vegetable broth. Cook until the kale has softened and the liquid is absorbed.

To serve, spoon quinoa onto plate.  Place one or two avocado halves on top. Spoon the curried beans on the avocados, then top with the cucumbers and tomatoes.

vegan recipe

 Now my questions for you, since I’m really new to this. Do you have any resources for gluten free and vegan information and recipes? Those of you who eat gluten free, do you have any suggestions?