Recipe: Paleo-ish Zucchini Bread

I feel like many people who utilize Pinterest and other platforms to get inspiration for recipes there will never truly be enough days to have time to make them all. As someone who also appreciates fitness and living a healthy lifestyle, it can also be hard to find a way to balance the competing ideas.

Two stories.

Years ago, I tried paleo. There were things I liked: bacon, learning that food is fuel, flexibility with healthy fats. There were also things I didn’t like: no peanut butter, no grains, expensive (at least for me).

I bought a few books and cookbooks so I didn’t dive in blindly. I picked up a few books that were targeted for kids because I figured that would be a good place to start. I also got a fancy paleo dessert book and sadly I haven’t made anything from it – some of the ingredients aren’t your everyday ingredient and I need to order them. It’s an investment for some of them as well. I followed a few blogs and observed how people adapted. I’ve been following PaleOMG for about six years now and it seems like it was so much longer ago than it was.

When I found her she was much more strict with paleo, but she calls herself paleo-ish, which is something that I appreciate because I love food and while I did try this style of eating years ago – I’ve learn that nutritional protocols that call for unnecessarily elimination don’t do me any good.

Anyway, I love her recipes and have dabbled with a few. I’ve kept some paleo and I’ve changed up some ingredients. Like, are you really a foodie or cook if you don’t fuck around with the recipe?

For her original recipe click here.

But what really inspired me to make this recipe is the CrossFit Games. CrossFit leaves me torn.

I’m not sure I like the idea of doing a WOD. There’s a time and place for being told what to do and with the program I just completed I felt I was able to make some changes if energy or mindset wasn’t where I thought it should be.

I do however, love some of the lifts and the fire in these athletes. Like, some of these women are just bust deadlifts three times their bodyweight. THAT’S NUTS. 

So while I don’t want to start CrossFit I do following a few YouTubers and blogs of those who do CrossFit as well as powerlifters. It’s just a different kind of mindset towards working out and raising the bar on what you’re capabilities.

Want to be mind blown? Google some of these names:

  • Lea Malo
  • Sara Sigmundsdottir
  • Laura Horvath

One of the I was watching followed around Mat Fraser – he’s the “fittest man on Earth” – two years in a row. He’s competing this year again in the CrossFit games with the hopes to take the title again. His girlfriend, Sammy, cooks for him and in the video they captured footage of her cooking and taking photos of the food. They showed her cooking Instagram, which is public, called Feeding The Frasers. This led me to the Facebook page by the same name where she reshares those photos of food and recipes.

She gave me the push for the zucchini bread. She took PaleOMG’s recipe and made a change – almond flour instead of coconut flour.

I made two changes – peanut butter instead of sunflower butter and decreased honey.

What You’ll Need

1 medium zucchini, shredded (equal to 1.5 cups shredded zucchini)

  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter*
  • 1/4 cup honey*
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons Almond flour*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • baking pan
  • parchment paper
  • cheesecloth

*Original recipe called for sunflower butter, peanut butter has a similar consistency. Just be mindful that almond butter may bake a bit different because of the consistency.

*I used less honey because while I do love my sweets, I always try to see if I can get away with decreasing sugar content. I thought it was perfectly sweet with a little less honey.

*The original recipe called for coconut flour, and the

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.Peel and shred zucchini into a bowl covered with a cheesecloth. Gather up the cheesecloth and tightly twist it closed. You want to squeeze as much water out as possible. In the original recipe, she used paper towels, however, I find cheesecloth to be a lot easier to work with and you get less waste.

 

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3. Once you’ve drained as much water out as possible, discard liquid and pour shredded zucchini back into the bowl.

4. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix well.

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5. Place a large piece of parchment in a standard bread pan. I prefer this because the bread is going to be moist and can be hard to get out of the pan without falling apart.

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6. Pour batter into pan and bake. Keep an eye on your oven. The original recipe said to bake it for between 20-25 minutes, so I set a timer for 20 minutes to check on it. I set two additional 5 minute timers and took it out at 30 minutes.

7. Remove from baking pan and place on cooling rack. After a few minutes peel parchment paper down from the bread loaf.

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This was super easy to make and was ridiculously moist – which is why I think I had a hard time determine how cooked with was. It may have been able to be in a for a few minutes less, but rather safe than sorry because the top still jiggled a bit at the 20 minute mark. The peanut butter flavor was pretty strong, so I’d be interested to see how another nut butter is in it and see if the chocolate could shine through more.

This recipe is naturally gluten-free, but I would check some of the ingredients (like cocoa because you never know).
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Recipe: How to poach eggs and Salmon Benedict

I had never poached eggs until this weekend and holy moly – it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be.

If we had to rank egg styles in order of what I think is easiest to hardest to prepare the list would go:

  1. Scrambled
  2. Frittata
  3. Over medium
  4. Over easy
  5. Sunny-side up
  6. Hardboiled
  7. Omelet
  8. Poached

I never seem to get the timing just right on hardboiled eggs and I’ve ripped a number of omelets in the flipping process – trust me, it wasn’t pretty.

On Saturday, JP and I went to BJ’s Wholesale for our biweekly grocery haul and I had decided to change up some of my fat sources as well as my vegetables. We typically get our vegetables and fruits based on what’s on sale, however, going to the wholesale club drastically decreases the cost of items like blueberries, avocados and bell peppers. We still try to be mindful of how much we’re investing into our groceries in cost as well as our taste buds – when you buy bulk you are dedicating many meals to these items.

This haul resulted in whole eggs, avocados and smoked salmon as new fat sources. Blueberries, potatoes, green beans and bananas as newer vegetable and fruit carbohydrate sources.

After I got the haul home, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do with the parts I bought. Since I’ve changed my first rest day to Sunday, the first thing I thought about was breakfast and I got to searching.

First of all, I looked at a few different sites to poach an egg and I wish there had been more consistency because some were just awful. The first one resulted in an egg in the trash – so sad. Thankfully, after reading through more recipes I was able to get it right.

What You’ll Need for Poaching

  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Whole eggs
  • Medium pot
  • Slotted spoon

Directions

  1. Fill a medium-sized pot with water and set to medium high heat. You want to get the pot to a low boil.
  2. Once, the water is at a boil, add 1 to 1 and a half tablespoons of white distilled vinegar.
  3. Crack an egg into a cup or small container that you can use to help slide the egg into the boiling water and turn the temperature down a little.
  4. Once the egg is in the water, set a timer for 2 minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, gently scoop the egg and shake off any water.

The vinegar helps prevent the egg whites from separating and as the water boils the whites start to cook into themselves and appear as though they were cooked in the shell of the egg. 

What You’ll Need for Hollandaise Sauce for 2

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of  butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Small pot
  • Whisk

Directions

  1. In a regular bowl (what I call a cereal bowl), beat egg yolks only with 1 tablespoon of water and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Mixture will be a bit fluffy and frothy.
  2. Transfer mixture into a small pot over medium heat. Allow pot to warm up and then start stirring or whisking. I have a small whisk, a traditional size whisk may be too big and you may want to use a fork.
  3. Continue to whisk for about 5 minutes or until yolk mixture has appear to slightly cooked. As your whisking, the mixture will become more fluffy and increase in volume. The coloring will also darken.
  4. Once it appears that is has cooked, remove from heat and mix in butter.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add cayenne for spice – JP tops his with hot pepper sauce instead.

Assembly

If you want to add a grain, I would recommend toasting it so that it’s sturdy. You could also eliminate the grain and add starch like a baked red potato or sweet potato. If you’re interested in keeping it lower carb you can have the egg without a grain or starch.

  1. Layer sliced salmon on top of toasted English muffin.
  2. Gently place poached egg.
  3. Finish off with a spoonful or two of Hollandaise sauce.

Notes:

Keto/Higher fat diets: for those who do follow a higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet and are looking for healthy fats to incorporate into breakfast, the poached egg with smoked salmon may be a good option. The Hollandaise does also have yolks and butter, which do contain saturated fats so moderation should be practiced – this isn’t a meal I would necessarily recommend for every day, but if it’s balanced with other lean proteins and other unsaturated fats, I don’t think it’s a problem.

Paleo/Whole Foods approach: Eliminating the grain and substituting for a different base (if desired) could be a good approach. You can also change out the butter for a paleo/whole foods approach approved butter or ghee.


Recipe: Eggless Banana Brownies

Sometimes when I want to bake, I don’t want to have to plan a recipe. I don’t want to go out and compile all of the ingredients. Sometimes I want to be able to look around the kitchen and see if there’s anything that can be made from what I already have.

Mushy bananas are good for a few things: banana bread, banana muffins, oats and pancakes. But, they can also be a good base for other baked goods like brownies – you just need to remember what it is that you’re making.

What I love about brownies is how fudgey they are. I don’t like cakey brownies. I like fudgey, dense brownies. When I make brownies from scratch I add chocolate melted from a double boiler and cocoa powder. Thinking about an alternative brownie, I wanted to have some things similar like the fudgey texture and the obvious – chocolatey taste. I intentionally left out a rising agent because I really didn’t want to have to take time to figure out the right ratio so that it would rise instead of become hard or stay flat.

So if you’re wanting something kind of fudgey, but not fluffy, this may something for you to try. This was a solid first go, but I’m definitely interested to see what happens as this recipe evolves.

What You’ll Need

  • 3 small bananas (~220g)
  • 1.5 scoops of chocolate whey casein protein powder (~50g)
  • 1 tablespoon of almond milk (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup of chocolate chips
  • cooking spray

Directions

1.Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and mash bananas in a medium sized mixing bowl. Three small bananas should do, if you have two medium bananas that’s also fine. If they’re a bit larger you may need to add slightly more cocoa powder later.

3. Add protein powder to mashed banana mixture. I used PEScience Chocolate Cupcake because it’s what we had in the house, it’s also my chocolate protein of choice because it’s very chocolate-y.


4.If you find that the mixing the protein into the mashed bananas is difficult, add 1 tablespoon of milk or milk alternative. I used almond milk and it was plenty.

5.Once you’ve mixed the protein powder and banana, add cocoa. I use Hershey’s, but you can probably use any baking cocoa powder of choice.

6.(optional) Mix in chocolate chips. I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao. They’re a bit larger chips that I usually use in baking unless melting, but these were a good choice. Again, like the cocoa, you can use any chocolate chip you want to.


7. I won’t lie, this is where having a smaller baking pan would’ve done me some good. I have small loaf pans, but I didn’t want a thick loaf because of what that could do to baking time.

Spraying a standard brownie pan, I spread the batter as evenly as possible. If you use a smaller pan, the baking time will be slightly longer so it cooks thoroughly. Bake for 20 minutes. I set a timer for 15 minutes and after checking on them kept them in for another 5 minutes.

8.Using a spatula, remove the from baking pan and let cool on a rack.
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9.After cooling, cut into pieces. I cut the brownie sheet into 9 mostly equally pieces.

Tasting and texture notes: Definitely fudgey, even though they weren’t thick pieces. The overall texture is a little chewy, which I don’t mind. Minimal banana flavor since there’s A LOT of cocoa.

Nutrition: ~80 calories per square. 3F/10C/5P – ~2g of fiber

I think this is a good base for an alternative brownie recipe. I didn’t want to play with rising agents and maybe alternative flours. I have almond flour that I’ve been trying to figure out what else I want to do with it other than cookies – which is my favorite thing to do with it.

 

Recipe: Flourless Chocolate chip and Peanut butter Muffins

I eat breakfast every morning and when my boyfriend visits, I try to make breakfast a little interesting. While I’m prepping breakfasts can be boring, but we manage to spice them up from time to time. Over Christmas, I was surfing Pinterest looking for ideas when I decided to see if there were any recipes that were lower carb and higher protein. I came across a pin for Flourless Peanut Butter Mini Blender Muffins.

The recipe was pretty easy and was made in a blender! You can’t go wrong when a recipe is that easy. I did change up the recipe a little bit, but not too much.

First, since I’m in prep I weigh everything, that includes the banana in this recipe. I also used Nuts ‘N More Toffee Crunch protein peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter. Lastly, I counted out the chocolate chips used in each muffin.  Everything else was exactly the same as the recipe I found. I got 6 perfect muffins out of this batch.

Each muffin was 1/4 cup of  batter and the macros were:

Calories: 217

Fat: 10.8g

Carbs: 20.2g

Fiber: 4.3g

Protein: 10.9g

What I learned from this recipe is that it’s ok to use a hand mixer. A lot of my peanut butter fell to the bottom of the blender and I had to hand mix it in. That was a pain. These were super tasty and great to have with my egg whites. They make a good snack during the day too.

These made the boy pretty darn happy and anything that he also likes makes it easier for me to get through prep without extra cooking :]

Do you have a muffin recipe that you “go to” or like to change up sometimes?

 

❤ Cristina

Food from the sea

Today was the last day off of my 5-day weekend, but I have Friday off, so it’s still a short work week for me! Anyway, there was a lot of different seafood items on sale this week at the store, including wild caught haddock fillets. They’re frozen and fit perfectly in my freezer. They were also buy one get one, I may have bought 6 bags…

I’ve had haddock a few times when I was living in New York… thank you fish fry fundraisers, but that’s the only time I’ve had it. I’ve never cooked it and I typically don’t make stops in the seafood section of my local grocer. This was down right ballsy of me. So this is what I came up with.

Baked Haddock with Basil Pesto.

 

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All I did was rinse the fillets once I took them out of the serving size packets and rubbed 2 tablespoons of Classico Basil Pesto. It’s made with olive oil so I didn’t have to grease the baking sheet. I cooked them at 350 for 18 minutes.

I was surprised that there wasn’t a smell with the haddock when I was cooking it. It tasted great too. Not too fishy and I think it tasted better baked than deep fried. I LOVE deep fried food, so that’s saying something. I’m really glad I stocked up too because this will be a staple along with chicken and ground turkey in my journey to lose fat, gain muscle and become a bikini competitor. It’s also completely paleo!

Do you have any recipe ideas for fish that you like to make?

 

❤ Cristina

Let the countdown begin

This is the post where I state my goals for the next 16 weeks, but I know they will slightly change so here are my goals for right now (bikini competition is 20 weeks out).

  1. Use My Fitness Pal daily to track my carbohydrate, protein and fat ratios
  2. Work out 6 times a week and make it a priority
  3. Use weights more, and get over my fear of the weight room
  4. Take weekly photos to track progress, these will be Monday’s
  5. Weekly weigh-ins to track weight loss, these will be Monday’s
  6. Weekly measurements to track inches lost, these will also be on Monday’s
  7. Lose at least 10 pounds in the first month

So now that my goals are laid out pretty clearly, here’s where I’m starting.

Weight: 174 (according to my doctor last Monday, June 9, 2014)

Bust: 35″

Waist: 31.5″

Hips: 41.5″

I definitely gained back some of the weight I lost post tonsillectomy, but I’ve maintained a size 10, so I’m not complaining- completely. I have 16 weeks to get my butt in gear and become bikini competition ready.


 

I’ve changed my eating schedule to 6 times a day:

Breakfast- 7/8 am (depending on the day)

Snack- 10/11 am

Lunch- 1/2 pm

Dinner- 4/5 pm

Snack- 7/8 pm

Second Dinner- 10/11 pm

 

Here’s an example of what I’m eating. This is from today’s menu.

Breakfast: 2 corn tortillas, 2 eggs, steamed broccoli

Post workout snack: paleo protein shake with almond/coconut milk blend unsweetened

Lunch: Chicken breast with brown rice and basil pesto sauce

Snack: plain Greek Yogurt with Bear Naked granola and honey

Dinner: Gluten Free chicken sausage and Brussels sprouts, no salt added ketchup

Second dinner: Beef plain, small apple, 1 cup of watermelon

88 ounces of water/liquid

 

The ratios I’m trying to hit are 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat. This breaks down to 256 grams of protein, 256 grams of carbohydrates and 57 grams of fat. My ratios were close with 40% protein, 31% carbohydrates and 29% fat, but I was no where near the grams needed. When I put my goals into My Fitness Pal it calculates what you need, but I know this first week will be the week I get used to eating differently. I’m still eating gluten free and as clean as possible like the paleo diet, but I’m incorporating some grains such as brown rice, quinoa and steel cut oats. Immy suggested rice cakes for low fat snack that can help add carbohydrates to my intake. She also said not to worry too much if my fat ratios are a little higher; especially if the fats are healthy fats from foods like avocado.

This is going to take some getting used to. Here are some pictures from today.

I made Brussels sprouts for the first time. I steamed them and that’s it. I wanted to make sure that I liked the taste and the texture. They remind me of cabbage, kinda. I had them with my chicken sausage, so they had some ketchup on them, which was pretty good.

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6 pieces is a serving

This morning I tried a new class. It’s called Intense Toning and was it ever. There’s no cardio at all, which is great because I wasn’t looking for cardio. The class works all the muscle groups and incorporates body weight, free weights and weighted bars. The instructor was pretty awesome and I will have to take this class again, just not next Saturday… It’s race day :]

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This evening had to work my part-time job  and I was curious about how much we burn by walking around the store, either helping customers, straightening or because there’s nothing to do. In 4 hours and 24 minutes I burned over 700 calories. The average person burned 70-85 calories an hour while watching TV. So I definitely think of this as exercise.

20140614-214623-78383283.jpgLastly, Day 40 of 100 Happy Days: my planner. This thing keeps me organized and I know it’ll be my best friend over the next 16 weeks.

 

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Are you getting ready for the new week? Do you have summer goals?

❤ Cristina

I feel super productive… for now

It’s only Saturday and I already feel like this weekend has been super productive. Not only did I clean the WHOLE apartment last night and clean 4 loads of laundry, today I cooked up a few things for the upcoming week.

I’m taking the necessary steps to prepare for a great week. Here’s the top 10 things I’ve done to keep myself sane.

1. Clean clothes are necessary and my papasan is cleaned out :]

2. I made paleo brownies (mix from Trader Joe’s) so I have a fun dessert this upcoming week to have with my lunches.

3. I booked my spot for the group training class at my gym for Wednesday. There were only 2 spots left last night, I’m so pumped that I got one of them!

4. I went for a run yesterday and it sucked, but it reminded me of why I constantly push myself. You’re not going to be successful every time, but the failures will make you try harder.

5. I love bacon, but I remembered why I don’t cook it often. The windows have been open ALL day. Still, it was amazing with my breakfast and my dinner tonight :]

6. Staying hydrated keeps me happy. I know this sounds funny, but I drink a lot more fluids when I’m home than when I’m away from my house. My energy levels are typically higher and my skin looks clearer. I’ve been best friends with my pitcher of unsweetened ice tea today.

7. I have a Netflix binge watching problem.

8. I went through my closet and posted a bunch of dress clothes on eBay and put a bunch in a box for donation. Size 8 here I come!

9. Making decisions that push you outside of your comfort zone isn’t a bad thing, it just means that you need to learn how to face those kinds of choices. Here’s to developing better relationships, with myself and others.

10. I’m going to late night happy hour with my friend Molly, bring on the sushi.

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paleo brownies!

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baking made easy

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Chicken, bacon and tomato wraps with low sodium bacon

Story of my life

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Vanilla coconut milk ice cream with sunflower butter and bananas. #almostpaleo

 

Recipe Paleo Sweet Potato Fries

I have a weakness for French fries and I will admit I have been know to sit at the bar at Red Robin and get bottomless fries. I usually max out at 3 helpings for fries with honey mustard when it’s been a bad day. This recipe is a great alternative to the deep fried goodness of the white potato.

Sweet potatoes are dynamic and can be made into a bunch of things. Sometimes I like them made up sweet and mashed and sometimes I like them salty.

What you’ll need

1 large sweet potato

Olive oil

Sea salt

 

Equipment

Large knife

Veggie peeler

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Peel potato and rinse

3. Cut potato in half, then quarter, then slice into fry-size pieces

4. Toss potato pieces in a little olive oil in a bowl until coated lightly

5. Dump potatoes onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt

6. Bake for 15 minutes

 

Notes

A large potato makes enough for two people. Depending on your oven and if the temperature is off, you may need to keep them in longer or less.

 

 

 

 

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New recipe and some breakfast in bed

A few weeks ago I started making my own fruit bars and I had bought both pitted date paste and whole pitted dates from a local international market. I haven’t used the whole pitted dates until last night. I had no idea what to make with them other than the bars.

Thanks to Pinterest, I found a crockpot recipe that calls for pitted dates, apples, and pecans as the main ingredients. Turns out, it’s from a blog on blogspot called Feeding Ger Sasser. You can get the recipe I used here. There’s no special name for it, but it tastes pretty special :]

 

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Pitted Dates

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Post-crockpot to bowl picture

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Breakfast in bed on Easter morning

 

Some notes. I could’ve cooked this a little longer, my apples are a little crunchy still, but it’s still really good. Maybe adding a little water to the mixture might have helped break the apples down a little more.

This made for a great breakfast this morning, while I watched Hop. I don’t celebrate Easter so I plan on relaxing and working around the apartment today and I have a ribeye pulled from the freezer for dinner tonight :] Bring on the wine!

I hope everyone has a great day with family and friends!

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Paleo Breakfast Muffins

Two recipes from my 50 in 2014 list in one week; it’s definitely been a busy week and one where change is welcome! I found this recipe as a pin on Pinterest, but turns out the blog is also a WordPress blog called Pop an Egg on It.

The blogger, Katy, is a mother and has a passion of cooking. She’s battled a lot of eating issues and stomach issues. She discovered paleo and has lost weight and become healthier as a whole person. Her blog is mostly if not all paleo recipes and I can’t wait to try others because this one rocked!

Katy’s breakfast muffins remind me of making paleo pancakes with eggs and a banana when I was prepping them, but with some oil, coconut, honey and almond meal these are so far from the banana bread smelling pancakes.

This batch made 8, which is what Katy said it would make.

 

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yay batter!

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post oven- yes the unwrap one was eaten :]

 

They came out fluffy and light. Typically, I think almond meal can be a little chewy and sometimes dense, but these were just like cupcakes. I had set the oven for 350 since I was making other things, and I have never been more happy that I have an oven temperature gauge because the oven was heated to 450!

This little guys only needed 10 minutes and they were done. I can’t win with my oven, not at all.

I have no idea what a serving would be, but it’s safe to say eating one with something else would be a good call. It wouldn’t be hard to eat them all. Katy’s post even suggests mixing in other things like chocolate chips or blueberries to make them interesting. I’ll have to make a variation next time :]