I used to make zucchini bread when I lived on the East coast. Unfortunately, zucchini doesn’t grow well (at least for us) here in wet Hawaii. But Costco has organic ones every once in a while so I get them to augment my garden veggie harvest. The recipe for zucchini bread my step-mom and I used to make called for 1/2 of the amount of usual oil in applesauce. It also called for a fair amount of zucchini as we always had a bumping harvest in CT. (I hate those veggie muffin recipes that call for 1/2 cups!)
I adapted this recipe for muffins and replaced all the oil with applesauce as an experiment. Why? Because I’m really trying to hone in on my diet. I get a lot of healthy fat from avocados, nuts, and coconut. So I figured not all my muffins need to add refined oils. Super moist muffins that are reminiscent of the taste of zucchini bread but with texture of moist banana bread. These are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber with whole wheat flour, oats and omega-3 rich walnuts. Perfect as an addition to a whole-foods well balanced diet.
Healthy Zuchinni Muffins with Walnuts (oil free, dairy-free, vegan option)
Yum! My husband is always lovingly calling me cookie, talking about cookies but when it comes down to me making cookies, he won’t really stand for the traditional cookie recipe. Mostly, the large amounts of butter and sugar that make him feel “dirty” when he eats more than 2 at a time. This double chocolate chip bean cookie recipe is so delicious and is packed with nutritious ingredients that is almost more dangerous because you almost feel like you can eat them for dinner.
Dessert for dinner?
Desserts almost so healthy you can have them for dinner.
In fact, lately we have been having dessert for dinner. Over the holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years 2020) this was our schedule: Later than normal healthy standard egg breakfast, mid-day green smoothie, “early” large holiday dinner at around 2pm or so. And then generous helping of our alternative, or “healthy” desserts. On Thanksgiving I made an apple pie with coconut oil crust and and maple syrup apple filling. Christmas Eve, this double chocolate chip bean cookie recipe, Christmas Day we made a blackberry and apple bar/crumble with a oat/yogurt crust and a oat cinnamon crumble on top. And for New Years, another bean experiment, a twist on my beet brownies meets this double chocolate chip recipe — double chocolate beet bean brownies. YUM! Can we repeat the holidays please!
Just kidding, as I write this is it New Year’s day morning 2021!! FINALLY! Sipping my cup of decaf coffee I am trying to focus on forgetting about the holiday sugar rush where I used an entire jug of organic maple syrup within approx one month and those 3 desserts. But hey!!! Maple syrup has trace minerals and its delicious!
Really though, my holiday dessert recipes we all on the “less sweet side” and if I felt like the batter still wasn’t sweet enough, I added drops of stevia. Which I’m sure helped sweeten them up more.
Anyways! These bean cookies are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert as long as you remember that as healthy as they are they still have a fair amount of sugar. Moderation (my arch-nemesis) is the key to feeling great about eating these. I started modeling this recipe on several existing bean cookie recipes, none of which included all the ingredients I wanted but this recipe by clean cuisine was the closest…
Double Chocolate Chip Bean Banana Cookies
These cookies are almost guilt free. Modified from traditional cookie recipes to include garbanzo beans, oats, bananas, coconut oil, and maple syrup.
Why is this winter squash cheesecake recipe healthy?
Ok – let’s cut right to the chase. This healthy winter squash cheesecake recipe, is labeled as such on my page because I use a combination of coconut oil and butter in the crust. (I know butter is good for you but it’s hard for me to use 6 tablespoons of it at once in a recipe, plus I have way more coconut oil than butter in my house).
I also use maple syrup instead of refined sugar. Maple syrup is much more rich in essential minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese) than sugar. And! coincidentally, I have much more maple syrup in my house than sugar (which is pretty much reserved for kombucha making at this point).
Lastly, this winter squash cheesecake recipe uses about 3/4 as much squash as cream cheese, compared to cheesecakes that are close to 100% cheese. Winter squash is an original super food, complete with carotenoids (like your favorite Beta-carotene), protein, Vitamin C & B6, fiber, magnesium and potassium. If I had had access to hippie graham crackers while making it I would have used those instead of Honey Maid – but hey! at least they boast no high fructose corn syrup. Maybe next time I’ll make my own cookies for a crust… (haha we will see).
What if I don’t have a spring form pan?
Perfect! Then this recipe is for you. You can make cheesecake in any pan that has walls that you can safely put in the oven. I have A LOT of kitchen gadgets, but being sorta dairy and gluten sensitive, I still haven’t added in spring form pans (or even cake pans!) to my arsenal here in Hawai’i. But, Black Friday is just around the corner so maybe I’ll re-up my kitchen supplies.
Anyways, this recipe is pretty much cut in half from your traditional cheesecake recipe (you know, the thick slices with 2 inches above the crust that make you wonder why you ate dinner before dessert?) Well, in this recipe the slices are just as wide but they’re not as tall because I use a pie baking dish. I’ll admit I had a little extra filling (about 1/2 cup or so) so I made a little more crust and made an extra mini cheesecake so we could try it before I gave it to my friend for her birthday to share with her family. (Covid-era! and we cannot have her over for dinner, blow candles out!, etc.)
What is tropical winter squash?
The term tropical winter squash is not scientific. Really I mean Curcubita moschata, a species of winter squash that is more tolerant of heat and humidity, and pests than C. maxima or C. pepo Which of course explains why we can pretty much grow it here year round in Hawai’i as long as we give it the ideal circumstances for producing fruit.
The curcubita moschata varieties we like most have orange skin on the outside, are about small – medium and more oblong than round. This one pictured was the only one we’ve harvested from the farm this summer. I got the seeds to plant it from a winter squash we found at the farmers market that had my favorite characteristics mentions about. It is obvious but worth nothing – that this winter squash cheesecake shares a lot of similarities with its cousin pumpkin cheesecake.
Let’s jump to the cheese
Really I made this recipe because no other recipes combined everything I WANTED to use in a cheesecake recipe. So I mulled through many recipes, tried to get an idea of the ratios, portions, and just general vibe – until I sat down to write this one up. So if you enjoy a little bit of the healthy cooking but still want to keep things a bit “traditional” – I hope you find this recipes gives you a baseline for the possibilities out there.
This was actually the first cheesecake I’ve ever made by myself. Recently, I supervised an 11 year old who had a dream of making strawberry cheesecake. We used this recipe from Delish. It came out excellent to her standards – but I did learn a few things about how to be more specific in writing the recipe, how to crush the graham crackers (in a food processor not by hand!), and how much batter would fill the pan appropriately. For this winter squash cheesecale recipe I also based my proportions around the Delish recipe a bit.
This "healthy" recipe is for a small cheesecake (that has about 3/4 of a inch of filling) – I made in a pie pan but cake pans would work too if you're not worries about presentation. I use more coconut oil than butter in the crust, maple syrup instead of sugar, and of course, part of the filling is homegrown tropical winter squash.
I recently visited my parents in upstate NY during apple season. They have more than 20 unknown varieties of cute apple trees with little tart apples of varying sizes, shapes and tastes. Adam was visiting with me and begggggged me to make apple pie. Then I made 4 more. This pie recipe is classic, really good and does
n’t involve a lot of processed ingredients. In my crust recipe I cut the butter with 50% coconut oil. Obviously you could leave out the coconut oil and use all very cold butter and this recipe should work great. I encourage people to try using just coconut oil for the crust. I haven’t been that adventurous yet.
My mom had this cute apple peeler and corer, it was definitely a time saver with the super small apples on their farm.
Recipe for the Apple Pie
Yield: 1 apple pie in 9” inch diameter pie pan, with a top and bottom crust
Equipment: Pie pan, food processor
Ingredients for the pie crust:
2 1/2 cups white flour (plus another cup or so for rolling out the dough)
1/2 cups salted butter ice cold, chopped (plus another tablespoon or two for dabbing under the top pie crust.
1/2 cup solid coconut oil
1/4 tsp or less salt
1/2 cup ice cold water or less
1 egg beaten (for the egg wash)
Steps for the pie crust:
Mix cold butter and coconut oil in food processor with flour. I roughly chop frozen butter and flash freeze the coconut oil first. Pulse the mixture for 2 -3 seconds at a time until it becomes crumbly. Maybe about 30-40 pulses. You want there to be small chunks of butter and coconut oil.
Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl and add the icy water teaspoon or so at a time, mixing gently with fork until the dough becomes uniformly moist but not sticky.
Stick your hands into ice cold water and dry them, gently mold dough into a ball (mixture will be crumbly, be patient and gentle). Then wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Apple Pie Filling Recipe
Ingredients for the apple pie filling:
3-4 cups sliced thin apples that are cored and peeled.
1/4-1/3 cup maple syrup
2-3 tablespoons flour
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Steps for rolling out the pie dough:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm for a few minutes (2-5).
Set up a well floured surface to roll the dough and flour the rolling pin. To make it easier for yourself, is this is your first time in a while with pie dough, you can lay a piece of wax paper down and flour that.
Separate the dough into two, one part should have a little more dough for the bottom of the pan.
Roll the dough out gently for a first time, it will crack a lot and be very crumbly. After a couple of rolls, turn it into a ball again and then roll it out again on the wax paper. Adding more flour on the wax paper and the rolling pin as necessary. Be careful not to warm the dough with your hands too much. Handle as little as necessary. Remember you want chunks of butter and coconut oil to make the pie crust flaky. Try to roll it out until it at least a ½ in more than the diameter of your pie plate when it is upside down. Add more flour as necessary during the rolling making sure the bottom of the dough isn’t sticking too much. You can turn it over a few times during this process. Then fold in half and gently place into pie pan. Set aside in the fridge
Repeat steps for the top of the pie crust. When finished place on a plate in the fridge and For the bottom of the pie pan, roll out half of the dough . Roll it out until it looks at least a 1/2 inch – 1 inch more than the diameter of the bottom of your pie pan. Place carefully in pie pan. Roll out the second half for the top of the pie.
Add the juice of 1 or 2 lemons to a large mixing bowl (discard seeds).
Wash, core and slice the apples, tossing them in lemon juice as you add them to a bowl.
Add the cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup and gently toss until the apples are evenly coated.
After your bottom crust is in place, put the apples carefully in the pie pan, adding a little flour as you go. Right before you put the pie top on, add small dabs or little pinches of butter under the top of the crust.
Make a few slits in the dough, and gently wash with beaten egg.
11. Bake in preheated oven at 350° F for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown.