White Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

I’m sure by now it’s no surprise that I LOVE all things pumpkin, so prepare yourself for a few more recipes :-)

When my friend Hannah visited last week she brought me a tupperware full of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that I promptly devoured. Once they were gone, I knew I had to re-create them.

Even though I love to bake, I’m not the biggest fan of measuring/following directions (um, yes – I realize this is usually essential for baking). I went with my instincts last night and the result was healthy and delicious (tooting my own horn, just a bit)!! I based the recipe loosely on these pumpkin cookies, but my final version was modified quite a bit.

white chocolate pumpkin cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of ginger and nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1.5 cups light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs (preferably organic)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3.5 oz Lindt white chocolate bar, chopped into small pieces
  • small handful of dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease a large baking sheet
  • Whisk together flour, spices, and baking soda in a medium bowl
  • Beat together the sugar and butter until creamy
  • Mix in applesauce, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla
  • Slowly incorporate flour mixture just until combined
  • Stir in the pecans and white chocolate and dark chocolate chips
  • Drop heaping Tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top

These cookies have a very light, fluffy textures (almost like little pumpkin breads!) and the white chocolate is a surprisingly good compliment to the pumpkin. To assist in her post-marathon recovery, Alma sampled 6 cookies and declared them “delicious!”.

And now….for my next trick, homemade pumpkin puree! Inspired by Christine, I set out to make good use of a small pumpkin that had been serving as a living room decoration. I bought this lil’ guy over a month ago and it was still perfectly edible. Yay, winter gourds!

Instructions:

1) Wash the pumpkin, cut a hole in the top, and scoop out the seeds/innards. Then cut the pumpkin in half and then into medium sized chunks (leave the skin on).

Sugar pumpkin

2) Put the pumpkin chunks in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the bowl from the microwave (be careful! bowl will be hot), stir, cover with new plastic wrap, and microwave for 10 more minutes.

Cooked Pumpkin

3) After pumpkin is finished cooking, allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the pumpkin rind – I used a spoon to scoop the flesh into a separate bowl. I was doing this around 11:45pm on a Saturday night…real cool, I know.

4) Mash the pumpkin and store in a tupperware or small bowl until ready to use! I have plans to make some pumpkin risotto with my homemade puree.

Pumpkin Puree

This pumpkin was probably one of the best dollars that I ever spent. The gourd served as a decoration for over a month, yielded nearly 2 cups of pumpkin puree, and I plan to season and roast the seeds.

Hooray for pumpkin!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? In a pie? In a latte from Starbucks? As a jack o’ lantern?

Apples – The Perfect Fall Food!

apple

One of my favorite newsletters comes from an online foodie directory called Food411. Their most recent edition was all about apples! Check out some of this great apple-y info from Food411:

Apple FYI:

  • Fall is here and so are the apples! Apples are in season from late summer to early winter. Many varieties are available year round because they have been in cold storage or imported.
  • There are about 2,500 known varieties of apples grown in the US. The top states that grow apples are, WA, NY, MI, CA, PA, & VA. Washington state produces more apples than any other state in the U.S..
  • On average in U.S., we eat about 19 pounds of fresh apples a year — which amounts to only one apple per week. Of course eating one fresh apple is always good for you, but to get the full nutritional benefits you should eat at least one fresh apple every day.
  • Apples are wonderful for hydration. They are made up of approximately 83% water. The average small apple has only 60 calories. Approximately, 15% of an apple consists of carbohydrates from sugar and fiber. It is important to remember that this is natural, unprocessed sugar that will not cause the blood sugar spikes as refined white sugar can.
  • Fiber is perhaps the most important nutrient that apples provide. A small apple contains approximately 3 to 5 grams of fiber. However, most of the fiber is located in the frui! t’s skin. So, peeling an apple will remove most of this important nutrient. Remember, fiber fills you up, along with an apple’s high water content – making the apple a filling, healthy snack.
  • Many recent studies show apples may provide a “whole-body” health benefit. Lower blood cholesterol, improved bowel function, reduced risk of stroke, prostate cancer, type II diabetes and asthma and a potential decreased risk of cancer and heart disease. In addition to fiber, apples are loaded with antioxidants that are associated with lowering bad cholesterol levels. Apples also contain flavonoids and phytochemicals that may help protect organs like the lungs and colon. They are also a good source of boron, which is associated with improved bone density and a stronger heart. Apples also protect the heart by their high folic acid content.
  • Nutritionally, whole apples are a much better choice than apple juice. Whole apples are richer in fiber and the process of juicing seem to reduce the nutrient concentrations found in the whole fruit
  • Dentists also promote eating apples as a method of preventing tooth decay. Apples have nutrients known as tannins that can protect against plaque and gum disease. Also, eating a water-rich, solid fruit can help clean away bacteria from teeth. Chewing an apple helps stimulate the production of saliva. Saliva kills bacteria and helps prevent tooth decay.

Apples

Apple Tips & Tricks:

  • Choose organically grown apples whenever possible to avoid peeling the skin. Eat apples unpeeled. Two-thirds of the fiber and most antioxidants are found in the peel.
  • Buy apples that are bruise-free and firm to the touch. Bruised apples can decay quickly. “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch”!
  • Unbruised apples, handled and stored well, have a storage life of 90 days, and often more!
  • Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.
  • Apples are sometimes called “nature’s toothbrush,” They help clean the teeth and massage the gums.
  • Apples float because 25 percent of an apple’s volume is air.
  • Apples ripen six to 10 times faster at room temperature than if they are refrigerated. For optimal storage, apples should be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. (Storing them in a plastic bag prevents the ripening of other produce items nearby.)
  • It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
  • To aid in the prevention of browning peeled apples, place in a mixture of 50/50 water and lemon juice
  • Add diced apples to fruit or green salads.
  • Make a quick apple salsa for use over chicken or pork. Diced apples, chopped pepper, onions and lime juice – salt/pepper to taste.
  • Sliced apples and peanut butter make a perfect snack.
  • Sliced apples (either alone or with other fruits) and cheese make an ideal dessert
  • Use Honeycrisp, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Gala, Newtown Pippin and Granny Smith apples for pies and other desserts.
  • Use Newton Pippin and Granny Smith varieties, which are more tart, in savory dishes.
  • Jonathans are good for making applesauce because they are tart, yet sweet.

apple pie

Some of my favorite apple recipes:

Megan’s Maple Apple Crisp

Apple-Basil-Chicken Salad

Marathon Runner’s Apple Cake

Caramel-Apple Butter-Oat Bars

Take this Apple personality Test: What does your fav variety say about you?

Chobani Greek Yogurt

First things, first – I wrote a guest post today for Angharad’s  Eating for England blog. You know you want to see more photos of those half-pound cookies I like. Mmm. And if that isn’t enough to sway you, the recipes that our English lady friend whips up are always amazing – check out her posh mac ‘n cheese dish. Swoon.

True to my word, I decided to tie on my baking apron last night. I had a big bag of Farmer’s Market apples that were just calling my name.

Apples

Megan’s Maple-Cinnamon Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 6 large apples, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • another 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Toss the apples with maple syrup and 1/2 tsp cinnamon and place in a lightly greased 8×8″ baking dish
  • Mix together the ww flour, oats, brown sugar, and second 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Using the tines of two forks (or just use your fingers) cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly
  • Top the apples with the crumbly mixture and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 F
  • Note: My oven is super hot, so you might need to bake your apple crisp for a little longer.
  • Enjoy!

Apple Crisp

This recipe is so healthy (whole wheat flour, oats, apples!) that you could eat it for breakfast. Actually, today I did just that.

But first, I started off with some coffee to-go, a few dried plums, and a still-dark commute to the gym. I do not like waking up before the sun.

Prunes

I hit up a 7:15am spinning class (the music was only half as good as Tuesday) and then finished with a speedy 3 mile run (finished the last 400m or so around 7:00/mile pace). Pheww.

Busy morning at work, breakfast was eaten in parts.

Breakfast #1: Chobani peach greek yogurt

Chobani

Actually, yesterday I received a whole CASE of these little babies. Including the elusive pineapple flavor. Hooray! It’s (almost) better than Christmas. Do you want some of your own FREE greek yogurt? There might be a give-a-way waiting for you at the end of this post….

Chobani

Breakfast #2:

Apple crisp with (another) dollop of greek yogurt

Apple Crisp

Lunch was the LAST of the coconut cauliflower curry. This was delicious, but cooking for one person means eating leftovers for days on end. Yeesh.

Leftover curry

I’m sure I’ll need a lot of mini peanut butter cups a healthy snack between now and the fun pizza dinner that I have planned….stay tuned!

I just found this great new recipe site called FunnySpoon. Bonus: the site offers coupons on featured ingredients. Two of my fav recipes: Halloweenies and 1-2-3 cookie bars.

Live in NYC? Check out the upcoming Boho Bodega where you can purchase “green” products at wallet-friendly discounts. All proceeds from the store will benefit the non-profit New York Council on the Environment.

Pumpkin, Fennel, and Grapes – Check out this Autumn shopping list for more seasonal favorites!

And now…..a fun give-a-way!! I eat greek yogurt almost every day (love all the extra protein) and Chobani has graciously offered to send a reader some samples of their very own.

Here’s what you have to do:

1) Go to the Chobani website and take a look around.

2) Leave a comment telling me what new flavor of Chobani yogurt you’d like to see.

3) Get an extra chance at winning by linking to my give-a-way on your own blog and leaving a second comment telling me that you did so.

You have until noon on Friday, October 16th to enter. I’ll choose the most creative/yummy flavor then! Note: Must be a U.S. resident to win.

Ok. Ready? Set? Go!!

Pumpkin Swirl and Butternut Squash

Highlights of my Saturday so far:

1) Having a conversation about track & field with the homeless guy who hangs out on my block.

2) Finally killing the mosquito who’s been feasting on me all week.

I started the morning with a quick trip to DD for a latte lite (ahhh, newest obsession!) and some breakfast: TJ’s honey greek yogurt, grapes, and Kashi warm cinnamon Heart-2-Heart. I had quite a few handfuls of cereal straight out of the box after I finished my initial bowl.

Latte Lite

After I finished my breakfast, I started to prepare the dough for some delicious Pumpkin Swirl Bread. I based this recipe on MeganNerdRun’s version, but made a few alterations.

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of ginger & nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling

  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, ww flour, oats, brown sugar, spices, salt, sugar, and yeast.
  • Stir in the warm water and pumpkin until moistened. Add egg, mix until smooth.
  • Stir in the remaining 1 cup flour until the dough is firm.
  • Put dough in stand mixer and knead using dough hook for about 5 minutes. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover with dishcloth, and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Spray the counter lightly with cooking spray and roll out the dough to a 18″ x 9″ rectangle.
  • Spread the melted butter on the dough and then sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar.
  • Roll up the dough jelly-roll style, starting with the short side. Pinch ends to seal.
  • Place seam side down in loaf pan, cover and let rise for 90 minutes.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Dough Rising

Rolling out the dough

During the 90 minute second rising, I headed out for a long run. I didn’t feel awesome, but the weather was ideal (sunny, breezy, and 60 degrees). My legs are STILL feeling the effects of last Saturday and my right knee/hamstring were a bother, but I was feeling great mentally by the end of my 10 mile run (finished in 1:30:10, about 9:01/mile). I think I’m going to take it easy for the next few weeks – lots of sleep, lots of cross-training, and lower running mileage. Hopefully that will put some pep back into my legs!

When I got home, propped my legs up against the wall while I waited for the oven to pre-heat. I’ve found that this trick really helps with circulation/muscle recovery.

And then I popped the bread in the oven. 30 minutes later…

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

I was very pleased with the consistency of this loaf – the middle was perfectly light and doughy with a nice crust on the outside.

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

Mmm….a thick slice of pumpkin swirl bread with peanut butter!

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

After finishing up the bread, I was ready for some more post-run food!

A big bowl of brown rice, pinto beans, roasted butternut squash, and a wedge of laughing cow cheese.

Butternut Squash

Rice & Beans & Squash

Now I’m watching a few Mad Men episodes and preparing for a fun dinner in Williamsburg.

Hope your Saturday is going well!

Oatmeal, Chocolate, Peanut Butter, M&M Cookies

Ever since I bid on a batch of kitchen sink cookies during the Healthy Living Summit’s bake sale, I’ve been thinking about creating my own batch of oatmeal-m&m-peanut butter-chocolate goodness. I based my recipe on Michelle’s Montana Whoppers recipe (omg, don’t they look delicious?), but made a few alterations.

First I had to assemble the ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups granulate sugar
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 3 eggs (organic if possible), beaten
  • 5 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 natural peanut butter chips (I used Sunspire brand)
  • 6 ounces of M&Ms (mini size or any variety)

Candy!

Instructions:

  • Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat. Once butter has melted, pour it in a very large bowl.
  • With a large wooden spoon, mix in the brown sugar, granulate sugar, and peanut butter.
  • When the temperature of the butter-sugar-pb mixture is warm and no longer super hot, add in the eggs. If you add the eggs when the butter is still hot, you will get scrambled eggs. That would be bad!
  • Next stir in the baking soda, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and M&Ms.
  • Add in the oatmeal, one cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  • Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for 2 hours – don’t skip this step! Time is needed for the oats to absorb the butter/peanut butter.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or coat with cooking spray.
  • Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.
  • Bake for 6-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. These cookies have a tendancy to burn, so keep an eye on them!
  • Cook the cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Mmmm….So good! And since they contain oatmeal, peanut butter, and dark chocolate, they must be a little healthy. Right? ;-)

Cookies

Montana Whoppers

Oatmeal, chocolate, peanut butter chip cookies

Are you a Kombucha lover? Whole Foods Bowery now serves it on tap! With all the probiotics and antioxodant this drink has, it might just be my new obsession!

Remember my sweaty soul cycle experience? Well, they just opened up a new studio on the Upper East Side and are offering FREE classes this weekend. People, jump on this. My class cost $32!

Feel a cold coming on? Or just love all things Autumn? Check out this yummy and healthy pumpkin soup recipe. It’s nutritious enough that you can indulge in some homemade apple pie for dessert :-)

Today is the first day of Autumn!! What’s your favorite part of the season? I love going for long runs under crisp blue skies and eating all sorts of apple and pumpkin goodies :-)

8 miles of success

I had plans to run 6 miles on Wednesday morning, but I ended up feeling so good that I ran seven eight miles. Edit: I just used my Nike+ sports band and discovered that this run is longer than originally thought. Woo-hoo! Alma and I ran along the Bridle Path in Central Park early in the a.m. and I had absolutely no pain in my hamstring or IT band. I think the key is running slowly and only running 3-4 days a week. I’m trying to build up the mileage gradually, so that I don’t back-track into injury. I still haven’t decided for sure, but I *might* run the Greta’s Gallop half-marathon in a few weeks. I ran Greta’s back in 2007 and it was my first ever race in New York City/Central Park. And during last year’s Greta’s Gallop, I met Alma! This is one of my favorite races, so it would mean a lot to me if I could do it (even if my time is very slow)!

Pre-run fuel was a cup ‘o coffee and half a luna bar – I’ve noticed a big difference in how I feel when I have a small snack a few minutes before running.

luna bar

IT band problems? Runner’s World has a great tutorial on stretching and strengthening that pesky body part. I’ve tried the stretches and I think they really help   :-)

Highlight of the 9am hour: overnight pumpkin oats for breakfast!

  • 1/3 cup each of oats, greek yogurt, 1% milk, and pumpkin
  • chopped peach, handful of raisins and walnuts
  • cinnamon, maple syrup, honey

Overnight oatmeal

I had meetings most of the day, so lunch was quick. The weather is dreary, so I needed lots of color in my salad!

  • romaine, shredded carrots, red onion, mushrooms, roasted potatoes
  • kidney beans and chickpeas
  • tastings of pasta salad and tomato-mozzarella salad
  • whole grain croutons, feta cheese, craisins
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinaigrette

Salad

Afternoon snacks were sunchips and some delicious mini-muffins from my co-worker. She used my pumpkin-chocolate chip bread recipe and they were SO good :-)

sun chips

Pumpkin muffins

My early evening was occupied with a top secret baking project (to be revealed soon) and some yoga. I need to go to a formal yoga class ASAP – it always makes me feel so much better. By 8pm I was starving for dinner. I had some leftover homemade pizza dough, so I baked up another mozzarella and tomato creation. This time I remembered to add chopped, fresh rosemary to the dough and it really made the flavors pop. I love when the mozzarella cheese gets crispy and bubbly – the key is to bake the pizza in a VERY hot oven.

Homemade pizza

Tomato and mozzarella

With POM juice + seltzer:

POM and pizza

Dessert was a sampling of my freshly baked goodies. I had to make sure they tasted alright ;-) I can’t share the recipe yet, but I’ll give you a hint: peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and M&Ms were involved!

Candy!

Time to finish up Season 2 of Gossip Girl. I still haven’t watched this season’s premiere!

Question: If you could only eat 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?

For me, it would be peanut butter, greek yogurt, and veggie pizza!

Speaking of delicious food, check out this mac ‘n cheese restaurant that just opened up in New York. The Primavera mac with spinach, artichoke, fresh herbs, tomato, parmigianno, and feta sounds soooo good. Any locals want to try it out??

Homemade Pizza and Pumpkin Bread

I was a little sore from Saturday’s 11 miles, so instead of running yesterday, I went to a morning pilates class and a then for a nice long walk.  I also kept busy with a few baking projects. The first was homemade whole wheat pizza dough! I adapted my recipe from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.

Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (Makes two 10-inch pies)

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup water lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup ww flour
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • additional 1  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • additional 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • optional – finely chopped rosemary or basil to mix into the dough

Instructions

  1. Combine the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/4 cup ww flour and 1/4 cup white flour in a small bowl. Mix well. Let stand for 30 minutes, until mixture is bubbly.
  2. Combine the next 3 dry ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the yeast mixture, cold water, and olive oil to the dry ingredients. Using the dough hook of your stand mixer, knead on low speed for 5 minutes. (You could also knead it with your hands if you don’t have a Kitchenaid). Turn dough out into a large oiled bowl.
  3. I let my dough rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator and then took it out of the fridge about 3 hours before I wanted to bake the pizza, but you could also just let it rise for 2 hours in a warm place.
  4. If using the overnight fridge rising technique, allow dough to warm up on the counter for an hour or so. Then divide the dough into two balls and cover loosly with plastic wrap.
  5. Place dough balls back in the bowl and allow to rise for about 2 more hours (until it doubles in size again).
  6. When you’re ready to make the pizza, stretch the dough until it forms a flat 10-12″ circle. Place on a lightly oiled, inverted baking sheet. Top with sauce, cheese, veggies, etc.
  7. Bake in a pre-heated 500 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until crust is crispy.
  8. Note: You could make two 10-12″ pizzas at once or just bake one of the dough balls and store the other in the fridge for a few days.

Making homemade dough sounds complicated, but it’s really not that hard. It just takes a lot of advance planning! But the pizza you eventually enjoy will be well worth the effort :-)

I topped the pizza with marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced tomato, sliced roasted red peppers, arugula, and the secret ingredient: silken tofu! The silken tofu was a wonderful substitute for fresh buffalo mozzarella. The consistency was almost identical and once I added basil, oregano, and garlic salt the taste was also similar. Plus the tofu added some vegetarian protein. Yum!

Crispy crust and ooey-gooey toppings:

After dinner, I started on another project:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (makes 8 servings)

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 6 oz low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg and ginger
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil  a 8″ x 8″ loaf pan.
  • Mix first 5 wet ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir just until moist – do not over mix!
  • Add chocolate chips and pour batter into loaf pan
  • Bake for about an hour – your bread may take more or less time depending on oven temperature. My bread was starting to get too brown after only 55 minutes, but the original recipe suggests 1 hour, 15 minutes of baking. Keep an eye on the bread!

This pumpkin chocolate chip bread is fairly healthy (ww flour, pumpkin, dark chocolate, yogurt replaces most of the oil, etc.) and is delicious when topped with peanut butter or yogurt. Enjoy!

If you’re avoiding gluten, the girls at Skinny and the City have some delicious gluten-free cookie recipes for you. The chocolate chip and lemon ginger varieties sound amazing!

In the New York area? Enjoy good beer? Check out the events scheduled for the 2nd annual NYC craft beer week.

Real Simple just published a list of the best breakfast cereals. What is your favorite breakfast cereal??

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