Tag Archives: chocolate

Confessions of a “healthy” food blogger

6 Aug

You’ve heard it here before. I’m not perfect. I like to eat things that are not always healthy for me (read: I am obsessed with dessert). My kitchen “experiments” don’t always turn out. I’m actually kind of jealous of Jamie of The Sometimes Healthy Living Blog for coming up with such a perfect name. I like to say that hungry comes before healthy in my blog name because I’m ALWAYS hungry and sometimes healthy. So are you ready for a round of HHH IMG_2412confessions? Fasten your seatbelts, ‘cause here we go!

Confession Number One: On Thursday night (designated as a splurge night back when I did WW, and can’t get the mentality out of my head) I ate 1.5 pieces of better than you-know-what cake and the little bit of homemade ice cream leftover from Sunday’s BBQ. I smartly gave most of it away, but kept these little pieces for myself. I didn’t post the recipe (because it’s dangerously addictive, and I care about you guys), but it’s basically chocolate cake soaked in the Nectar of the Gods (AKA sweetened condensed milk) and caramel sauce, then topped with Cool Whip and SKOR bars. It is, as Professor Harold Hill would say: “trouble with a capital T.”

I also ate a couple of jelly beans, a brownie, a cookie with PB (but both were small and low-fat), cereal, and a few frozen mango chunks (no, you’re not mis-reading, this is all in the SAME NIGHT). Oh well, just get on with things, start the next day with a workout, and it all works out in the end, right?

Confession Number One point five: This is one point five and not 2 because it relates to number one. I ate a sliver of a piece of better than you-know-what cake after my long run on Monday. Here’s my rationale: chocolate milk is supposed to be the perfect workout recovery food because it its protein/fat/carb ratio. And this cake was chocolate soaked in sweetened condensed milk, so pretty much the same thing, right? (just smile, nod, and agree with my rationalizations to eat insanely decadent desserts before noon). Winking smile

IMG_2450Confession Number Two: Inspired by Nourishing Flourishing’s Savory Summer Squash pancakes I decided to try and create my own variation on it with zucchini, adding fresh corn and black beans, and using a piece of crumbled leftover cornbread . I also added onion and fresh basil, and seasoned with garlic salt, pepper and cumin. While the results were delicious, they weren’t pancakes AT ALL.

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Everything crumbled and fell apart in the frying pan, creating what I called “zucchini hash.” Like I said, delicious, but not pancakes. I think I needed to better drain the zucchini and add some sort of binding agent. It isn’t really a “confession,” but I just HAVE to tell you about the sauce on the chicken in that photo. I made a red wine cherry onion sauce by simmering leftover onion relish (make it. Make it NOW. So good that you’ll eat it by the spoonful) with Dijon mustard, a splash of red wine and pitted fresh sweet cherries. Yeah. It was awesome. You know you want some.

IMG_2462Confession Number Three: I ate chocolate for breakfast yesterday morning. Okay, this really wasn’t a “bad”/unhealthy breakfast, it just sounds like it should be, and it was a really good breakfast and I wanted to share it with you and it’s my blog so I make the rules…okay? I had a deep chocolate VitaTop, a mix of fat-free regular and Greek yogurts, unsweetened cocoa powder, Splenda, fresh raspberries (last of my garden I think for this year) and a few strawberries. I finished it off with an iced coffee made with sugar-free caramel syrup (not chocolate, but still delicious). Mmm…if you want to get your day off to a great start, eat chocolate for breakfast! This one hit all the right spots! Smile

Happy Saturday! Do you have any healthy (or not-so healthy) eating/kitchen mishap confessions of late to share?

Fit For a King

29 Apr

Did you get up to watch the Royal wedding this morning? IMG_0918I’ll admit that I’m typing this on Thursday night (I almost always do my posts the night before anyway, but this weekend is crazy-busy, so it’s a necessity), but my plans are to watch at the gym while on the treadmill/elliptical (from about 6 to 6:50) and then while eating breakfast, and DVR the rest to watch while recovering from my half marathon Sunday night. I’ll even confess that I sort of planned my workouts around the Royal Wedding (did the stair climber on Tuesday instead of Friday because at my gym, the climbers are not in front of the tvs).

This weekend, I’m headed for serious good times: girl bonding, LOTS of chocolate (and food in general), the half marathon and brunch after. Friday and Saturday is my church’s annual ladies’ retreat. We always have a chocolate fountain on Friday night, and everyone is to bring a “favourite snack” and we sort of have a junk food buffet (hello 80/20!). I was just going to bake something, but then I remembered hearing talk and seeing recipes on tv for IMG_0920Prince William’s “biscuit cake” to be served at the wedding. Apparently, it’s a childhood favourite of his, and he decided he wanted it for his “groom’s cake.” It is a bit decadent (just look at all that chocolate, and the cream and butter…I may be Hungry Healthy Hilary, but sometimes the hunger overtakes the health! Smile with tongue out), but a royal wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, right? And how could I go wrong with  a cake with this much chocolate in a room full of ladies? Funny side note: as I was making this cake, I was watching an episode of The Biggest Loser that I had DVR’ed….how ironic is that?

You can follow the link above for the exact recipe (from the Today show). Below I’ll type the recipe as I prepared it.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Adapted from the Today show

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 6 tablespoons (4 sticks minus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 30 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), coarsely chopped (I used baker’s chocolate, 6 squares unsweetened, the rest semi-sweet)
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup (this is a British thing, I couldn’t find it, so I used half honey, half dark corn syrup)
  • 2 7.5-ounce packages lightly toasted butter biscuits (the ones in the picture are what I found at the Superstore, I thought they seemed good, and British, since they were called biscuits, not cookies. The packages were slightly smalled than listed, so I added in 5 graham crackers too.), coarsely chopped

* If you follow the link to the original recipe, you’ll see there is a glaze recipe. Since I was cutting this into squares for a more casual gathering, I omitted the glaze. I also made it in a square, not a round pan, so it could be cut into squares more easily. If you’re serving this for a fancier dessert, check out the original recipe so you can add the glaze and make it round.

For the cake: Lightly coat a 9-inch square pan with nonstick spray. Line with waxed paper so it overhands on all sides, and spray the waxed paper with cooking spray. Stir butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Stir in cream and golden syrup (or whatever you’re using). Remove from heat; mix in chopped biscuit pieces to evenly incorporate. Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pan; smooth top. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Use waxed paper “handles” to lift cake out of the pan. Peel off the waxed paper and put on a cutting board. Use a large knife to cut into squares. Note: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

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My big knife made quick work of the chocolate!

 

 

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Butter and chocolate melting over low heat in a large sauce pan (always use a silicone spatula, not a wooden spoon to stir melted chocolate. Water can get in the cracks in wooden spoons, and if it gets in your chocolate, it can seize and separate: NOT GOOD).

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While the chocolate was melting, I went for the good old “put the cookies into a ziploc bag, throw them on the floor/toss them around/crush the cookies with a jar/mush them up with your hands” approach to coarsely chop them (of course, I kept a close eye on the chocolate, stirring lots so it wouldn’t burn).

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Stirring in the cream, honey and corn syrup.

 

 

 

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Stirring the cookies into the chocolate-y goodness.

 

 

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The chocolate mixture poured into the prepared pan.

 

 

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The squares all ready to go after being chilled and cut.

 

 

 

Now, since I’m typing this on Thursday night, I *technically* haven’t had any of these yet. But you guys no me better than that. Some of the squares just didn’t look quite perfect, so I had to trim up some edges, and I couldn’t let those go to waste, could I? Winking smile So those edges I *didn’t* try were pretty tasty. I will update you and let you know how the other ladies liked them…and how I survived the chocolate fountain/junk food buffet…I’m eagerly anticipating it/dreading it at the same time(half marathon on Sunday, anyone?).  I just hope I can exercise some self control!

Do you have any “British” food favourites? Are you making/eating anything special for the Royal Wedding?

Please eat responsibly!

5 Mar

It’s that time of year again….Easter candy is popping up everywhere (actually it has been for almost a month now…I first saw some before Valentine’s Day). You may think that in order to maintain a healthy diet, you need to avoid this stuff like the plague…after all, it’s all empty calories with no nutritional benefits, right? While this is true, I am a die-hard sweet tooth and dessert lover. I believe that in moderation, Easter candy can fit into any eating plan!

I love Cadbury mini eggs. There’s just something about that crunchy shell and creamy milk chocolate that’s just so perfect. You may say that it’s the same as m&ms or Smarties…but I beg to differ….there’s just something magical about mini eggs that those other candies can’t compete with.

A few years back, Cadbury introduced popping mini eggs, which I loved. Not only were they fun to eat, you could savor them longer while the candy popped away, and their nutritional stats were lower than the regular ones (I’m not quite sure why). You used to be able to enjoy a small bag of the popping eggs for just 3 WW points, where the regular ones would run you 4 or 5. Sadly, within the last 2 years, the stats have gone up for the popping eggs, so a mini bag is 4 “old” WW points (higher, but still not bad). These mini bags present a great way to enjoy your eggs because they’re portion controlled. A tip if you really want to enjoy and savour your eggs (or any good chocolate) is to make a cup of tea or coffee, then sip and savor each egg….letting the hot liquid slowly melt each one. Don’t just mindlessly shovel them in!

As you can see from the above photo, I took the plunge and bought a big bag (I was really craving mini eggs last weekend, then saw them in a drug store and gave in). I try not to enjoy them straight from the bag…that’s asking for trouble! I’ve figured out that 1 old WW point = about 4 mini eggs. So I decide ahead of time how many I’m going to have, count them out, then put them in a little bowl and enjoy. This way I fulfill my craving without stuffing my face!

I’ve already told you about my love for Marshmallow Peeps. These fluffy little critters come in a variety of colours and different animals/shapes depending on the season. You can eat them as is, float them in hot chocolate for a fun alternative to marshmallows, make your own peep-a-licious s’mores, or a delicious dessert quesadilla. And being fat free, and only about 30 calories each (stats vary depending on what size/shape of Peep you’re getting), you don’t have a lot to regret with these guys.

The one upside of Easter candy (and Halloween too, for that matter)? A lot of it is miniature. Meaning you can eat a fun-sized egg/chocolate bar/pack of jelly beans, get your fix, but not stuff your face. Let’s face it – it’s going to be a long stretch to Easter. You’re bound to cave some time…why not enjoy small treats along the way, rather than depriving yourself and then binging and ending up with major food guilt and a sugar coma?

*One note before I close this post. I will be honest, the advice I listed above is what I feel is the smartest way to indulge in Easter candy. I do my best to follow it, but I haven’t always in the past. There have been plenty of family Easter gatherings with big bowls of these things where I’ve started munching and can’t stop. As I always say, I am only human and I LOVE food! I struggle with this stuff every Easter….so I hope this year I take my own advice (and you do too)!

These muffins are Tops!

26 Feb

Remember the muffin tops I bought at Costco? I promised an entire post devoted to my love for Vitatops, and after over a month, it’s finally here! I can’t believe I waited so long to tell you more about these things. I love them so much that I’ve decided they merit a favourite things post of their own! I discovered VitaTops thanks to Hungry Girl a couple of years ago, and now they’re a regular part of my diet. Vitalicious makes several flavours of muffins and muffin tops (sadly, they’ve cut back on what is offered in Canada, so I can no longer get my beloved chocolate peanut butter chip) but the best by far (of what’s available in Canada) is the Deep Chocolate VitaTop (and fortunately, it’s the flavour that’s the most readily available). You can also get flavours like cran bran, apple crumble, golden corn and pumpkin spice (the newest flavour…still haven’t tried it yet). They’re all good, but chocolate’s my favourite, hands-down.

Now, where do you get these things? The good news is they’re getting easier to find all the time. My grocery store stocks 4 packs of the deep chocolate in the breakfast freezer section. Many Costco stores also have 12 packs available (a great deal) in the frozen section. Or you can order online(sign up for their emails, they send out lots of coupons for free shipping and discounts). Now that you know where to find them, what do you do with a VitaTop?

More like, what don’t you do with a VitaTop? Hungry Girl is so mad about them, she devoted an entire chapter to VitaTops in one of her cookbooks! Before I get carried away, let me mention that you can keep these things in the freezer for months…so don’t worry about ordering large quantities. I microwave mine for 30 seconds, then I’m good to to. First off, I love these babies for breakfast. I typically pair a VitaTop with 1/2 cup plain fat free yogurt mixed with fruit (whatever’s in season) and Splenda. In the winter months it’s usually a sauteed apple or pear with some cinnamon, but there’s a lot more to choose from. I sometimes add vanilla extract to the mix to switch it up. I also enjoy either one of my cafe mocha drinks (sometimes change the flavour by adding either cinnamon or some sort of extract) or a pumpkin spice latte. This breakfast never gets old (after all, there are lots of ways to switch it up). Side note – I don’t know if you can read it in the photo, but I love what this mug says: “I’d give up chocolate – but I’m no quitter.” 😀

But these muffins go waaaay beyond breakfast. They make a great quick snack on their own or spread with a little pb. Or cut one in half, stuff with a little frozen yogurt for your own (HUGE) guilt-free ice cream sandwich. Or crumble it in some sugar-free pudding. Top it with ice cream and sauce for a brownie sundae. Hungry Girl’s recipe for a frozen pumpkin whoopie pie is one of my personal favs.

The sky’s the limit with these things…are you getting the idea? I’m sure I’m forgetting some ways to use these versatile Vitas, as I’ve done so much with them in the past. Have you ever tried VitaTops? Do you have any creative ideas for using them? Please share!

Double Chocolate Dream

22 Feb

Healthy eaters out there…don’t turn away from this post! The cookie recipe I am about to share with you comes from a Weight Watchers cookbook (but if you don’t tell anyone, I’m sure they’d never guess). More specifically, it comes from a WW cookbook called All Things Sweet that my mom purchased back in 1999. I’m sure it must be out of print, but if you click the above link, you can see what’s available through Amazon. I love this book. Actually, a couple of my favourite (and most popular) recipes come from it- these cookies, a great peanut butter cookie recipe, cream cheese brownies (best recipe I’ve found, seriously) and black bottom cheesecake cups, to name a few. I snapped a picture of the open pages to cry and capture just how “well-loved” this cookbook is. Although it’s hard to see, there are splatter marks everyone, and I can assure you, it’s this way throughout the cookbook.

I made these on the weekend because I was going to a get-together at a friend’s house (hi Megan :P). I wanted to bring something that I knew would be a crowd-pleaser, but that I could enjoy guilt-free. I’m not sure why these cookies came to my mind, as I haven’t made them in at LEAST 5 years (probably more), but I’m so glad they did. As soon as I made them, I asked myself why it had been so long. Rest assured, I will not wait so long before making these again. They have a great fudge-y, brownie-ish texture…achieved with only 3 tbsp vegetable oil! One cookie has just 64 calories and 1.6 grams of fat (1 point on the old WW system). A batch makes 48 cookies (or in my case, 46, with enough batter for a good bowl-licking). Give these a try…they aren’t just “good for low fat” cookies, they are just plain YUMMY!

Before I post the recipe, an update on yesterday’s run….8 miles seemed long enough in windy, snowy weather. I ran almost entirely on the road (not sidewalks), which was fine, as there wasn’t much traffic out at 8:30 on a holiday Monday. I can really tell how the wind and snow slow me down, compared with all of my summer training runs. My time wasn’t what I would have liked, but I toughed it out and made it! When I got back, I enjoyed a DELICIOUS bowl of hot oatmeal with apples. I didn’t plan to take a bath, but my muscles were a little sore and I was COLD, so I enjoyed a quick hot bath with Epsom salts (I should have added that to my list of running tips…I think my frequent Epsom salt soaks were a big part of reducing muscle soreness). I’m hoping the weather is a little nicer for my 9 miler next weekend :)…update will follow.

Double Chocolate Chews

from WW All Things Sweet

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup icing sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened sugar

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided (note: it’s important to use the mini chips, since a small amount gets put in the cookies, the mini size goes a lot farther than full size ones)

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup

1 tbsp water

2 2/1 tsp vanilla extract

3 egg whites

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk, and set aside.

Combine 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until chocolate melts (1 and 1/2 to 2 minutes). Stir until all chips have melted, and let cool slightly. Add brown sugar and next 4 ingredients to chocolate mixture, and stir well. Stir in flour and remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Drop dough by level tablespoons 2 inches apart on to baking sheets coated with cooking spray (I lined the sheets with parchment paper first for easy clean-up). Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool on pans 2 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; let cool on wire racks. Yield: 4 dozen cookies.

Try these…you won’t regret it!

Happy World Nutella Day!

5 Feb

Happy World Nutella Day everyone! Here is the first of the treats I made: Nutella Brownies that I found on this page. I made these brownies for two 30th birthdays that are 5 months apart…allow me to explain.

My brother-in-law Tim turned 30 last September. Like me, he has an insatiable sweet tooth. So I gave him a “sweet a month” for a year. This weekend, my sister and brother-in-law’s friend Jen is turning 30. To celebrate, her husband rented a cottage in Collingwood for several couples, including Catherine (my sister) and Tim. Back in August, my sister had me over for a delicious birthday lunch. Jen happened to be over that day, and did a lot to help prepare, including picking up some absolutely gorgeous flowers (picture at left), and giving me some of her homemade fig preserves (the ones I used to make this sandwich). So I suggested to Catherine that for Tim’s bday treat this month, I combine it with Jen’s birthday as sort of a thank you for the help she was in my birthday. Cat thought it was a good idea, and given that the weekend falls on World Nutella Day, I pretty much had to go with something Nutellicious (don’t you love that new word I just made up? 😛 ).

I made this recipe as directed, except for: I *very* slightly reduced the sugar, I melted the butter in the microwave instead of over the stove, I sprinkled the brownies with chopped toasted hazelnuts before baking, and instead of simply baking in a greased pan, I baked in a greased and parchment lined pan. This is one of my FAVOURITE tricks for baking squares – it makes cutting and cooling squares so much easier. You just spray the pan with nonstick spray (essential to do this before lining with parchment paper so it has something to adhere to), line the pan with parchment paper, making sure that you have a generous overhang so you have “handles” to lift the squares out with, and then spray the paper with more nonstick spray. After the squares are baked and have cooled slightly, you can lift them out using the paper handles, and they will cool faster. They are also much easier to cut and separate, since you don’t have to worry about wedging out those pesky corner pieces and cutting all the way to the edge of the pan.

The result? Well, *technically* I didn’t eat any. Why do I say “technically”? Of course, I made sure to eat copious amounts of batter (as I’ve confessed before, it is a HUGE weakness for me – tasting as I bake). And then, of course, as I was cutting them, there are those corner pieces that don’t look quite right (I AM giving these as a gift here people) so I had to trim them up a bit, and some pieces were just too large, so I had to cut off the excess….and I couldn’t let those pieces go to waste, could I? 😉 So from the pieces I “didn’t” eat (don’t you just love my rationalizations – anyone else do “food math” like this?)  – I thought the brownies were deliciously rich and fudgy. I thought they could have stood for a bit more Nutella flavour, but I’m not complaining – they were still amazing!

Hope you are celebrating WND with some delicious treats! Another Nutella post (or 2) are coming up…including the recipe I am making for the Super Bowl Party I am co-hosting (you heard that right)…neither me or my friend who I’m hosting with are football fans…we’re just in it for the food!

Happy WND everyone…and Happy 3-0 Jen (and Tim too)! 🙂

Chocolate Mint Cookie Snowballs

31 Jan

*Note: Although this blog has the word healthy in the name, I also love to bake (and occasionally eat) treats that are decidedly unhealthy. The treats in this post fall into that category. Read on at your own peril  – they are absolutely delicious – so if you face a chocolate mint craving, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

You may have noticed this by now, but when the weather turns bad, I love to stay in and bake. You also may have noticed that I love to use up leftovers, especially when I can re-invent them in a new creation. So when the snow changed my plans on the weekend, I took the opportunity to do both of those things and came up with Chocolate Mint Cookie Snowballs.

I had some cookies leftover from Christmas in the freezer. Normally, this isn’t a problem, as I like to have cookies in the freezer in case I need a quick dessert if we have company. But these cookies were particularly festive-looking: chocolate chip cookies made with Christmas m&m’s and chopped candy canes, do I felt it would be quite obvious that I was using Christmas leftovers if I served them, and it is almost February. I also had quite a few leftover mini candy canes (which I bought to make the cookies) and some green peppermint frosting leftover from when I made Christmas cupcakes for my class at school. Obviously I couldn’t just save these items for next Christmas, so I got to work on an idea to use them up while downplaying their festive look.

I got the idea from Bakerella’s Cake Balls, which I have made numerous times and are always a crowd-pleaser. The shot on the right is the “before” shot. I let the cookies thaw, and the icing come to room temperature. Then, I placed the cookies in my mini food processor and ground them until they were nice, fine crumbs. I put the crumbs back into the mixing bowl and added the icing, mixing with a spoon and my hands until the mixture came together. I rolled the mixture into balls, put them on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet and popped the sheet into the freezer for about 20 minutes so they could firm up.

While the balls were freezing, I chopped the candy canes (using the old reliable “put them in a ziploc bag and whack with a heavy object until desired consistency” method). I also melted my chocolate – I like to use melting wafers (those round discs you can find at bulk stores or the bulk section of some grocery stores) because they have a better consistency for coating when melted. I melted the chocolate in a small mug (in the microwave) so it would be deep enough to submerge the balls and thinned it out with a little vegetable oil to make dipping easier.

I dipped the balls in the melted, thinned chocolate and tapped off excess chocolate with a spoon. After placing each dipped ball back on the cookie sheet, I finished them off with a dusting of candy cane “snow” before the chocolate set. I was quite pleased with the final product (see top photo) and I think the recipients of these treats were pleased as well :). No festive leftovers wasted and yummy cookie balls to share – everyone wins! I still have a few left…who wants them?