Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

22 Apr

It feels like I grew up in the kitchen. Whether that was making German Kuchen (cake) with Oma, homemade pies with dad, dinners with mom, cookies with grandma, or eventually meals all on my own. I viewed the kitchen as a place to play, experiment, stir, learn and of course eat! And I still do.

Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies |

This is my first month participating in Recipe Redux, a healthy food blogging challenge. For April, we’re supposed to use treasured cookware. When my grandma passed away four years ago, we lost not only a loving woman and family member, but also an amazing cook and baker.

Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies |

Stains from years of use – I promise these are clean!

I have fond memories helping her in the kitchen, so it means a lot that my sister and I inherited her bakeware, cookware, mixing bowls and utensils. While I adore my pink stand mixer, I also love to mix doughs and batters in grandma’s old and coveted mixing bowls, using the same spoons that made countless dozens of cookies. Every time I use these items, it feels like grandma is right there in the kitchen with me, guiding me to bake the best cookies.

Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies |

In the spirit of Grandma, and this month’s theme, I wanted to make something she probably had memorized, using her bowls and spoons, but with a healthy twist to it.

Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies |

Instead of classic chocolate chip cookies, loaded with fats, sugars and white flour, I opted for a healthier but still completely satisfying version. This vegan recipe uses tahini, which is the paste that results from grinding sesame seeds. It imparts a subtle yet mature flavor to a childhood favorite. The small amount of brown sugar, plus pure maple syrup, make these just sweet enough without inducing cavities. Coconut oil and water replace the butter and eggs, reducing the fat content overall. And the whole wheat pastry flour increases the amount of fiber, without sacrificing the cookie texture we all know and love.

Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies |

Break out your hand-me-down mixing bowls, whip up a batch of these healthier cookies, and let the magic that is baking take you away to your happy place :)

Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies |

Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies, inspired by Hell Yeah It’s Vegan

Makes 20 cookies

  • 2/3 C tahini
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 C coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Line two cookie sheets with parchment; set aside.

Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies |

In a large mixing bowl, cream together tahini, sugar, maple syrup and coconut oil. Stir in water and vanilla.

In a separate, small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.

Without over mixing, stir flour into the wet mixture, a little at a time, until all is incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using an ice cream scoop, place balls of cookie dough onto prepared sheets. Press the tops down to flatten them out a bit – these cookies will barely spread as they bake.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes (not longer!). Remove and allow to cool on their sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely.

Healthier Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies |

Enjoy this healthy take on a favorite classic…the edges will be crunchy while the interiors are soft and delicious!

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy! Click on the below frog link to view other posts featuring this month’s theme! (Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.)

One-Pot Veggie Pasta

18 Apr

When your counter and sink are already piled high with dirty dishes, and dinner still needs to be made, the last thing you want to do is create another pile of dirty dishes. Such was my predicament the other night. The solution: one-pot pasta! Technically, one pot + one cutting board + one knife + one bowl + one spoon. But that’s still pretty darn simplistic!

One-Pot Veggie Pasta |

The trick is this: you first saute your vegetables, then transfer them to a bowl. Using the same pot, you cook the pasta right into the tomato sauce! Then you throw it all together and kill it. I mean…eat it daintily like a proper woman or man. :)

What we discovered is that the end result is a flavorful, creamy, warm, delicious bowl of pasta. How did it get so creamy, you may ask? No, not the addition of cheeses or dairy products…the creaminess comes from the starch released into the tomato sauce while the pasta cooks! Usually when you make pasta, the majority of that starchy water is drained off and lost for good. But the beauty of this recipe is that it cooks right into the sauce, producing an amazingly creamy result.

The next time you’re short on time, too lazy to make a whole mess of dishes, or don’t have enough clean ones for cooking, try out this recipe! Swap in your favorite vegetables (aka whatever you have on hand) and bookmark this one to make again and again. I know I will.

One-Pot Veggie Pasta, adapted from The Minimalist Baker

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 small zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into half-moon shapes
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 C water
  • 1.5 C pasta sauce
  • 12 oz dried pasta – a fun shape is best, to avoid sticking to each other - I used tri-color vegetable Gigli
  • dried or fresh parsley
  • dried chili flakes

Heat oil in a large pot/pan over medium-high. Cook the onion, zucchini and garlic for 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook another 2 minutes.

Transfer veggies to a bowl, so you can cook the pasta. Bring water, sauce and dried pasta to a boil in that pan. Stir together, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 12 minutes with the lid on.

Once the pasta is al dente, serve into bowls. Spoon cooked vegetables on top, and garnish with parsley and chili flakes, which add the perfect amount of spice. Eat it as is (or with some parmesan on top) and enjoy!

One-Pot Veggie Pasta |

Liebster Award: Discover New Bloggers

17 Apr

I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award! Thanks to Kailey at Still My Superman for the nomination :)

Liebster Award |

The Liebster Award is designed to introduce bloggers to other bloggers. The idea is that through nominations, new bloggers can connect, meet virtually and expand their networks. Part of the process is to share information about ourselves, and respond to the questions posed by the nominator.

The Rules:

If you’re nominated for the award you must:

  • Make a post about the award, thanking the blogger who nominated you.
  • State 11 interesting facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers with 500 or less followers.
  • Write 11 new questions for your nominees.

Thanks for making all this work for me, Kailey! I kid…this’ll be fun. So without further ado, here I go!

11 interesting facts about me

  1. I am a lifetime Girl Scout. An active member from Kindergarten through Senior year of high school, Girl Scouts provided me many experiences, learning opportunities, and friendships. To this day, I volunteer my time whenever I can, and just this month earned the Volunteer of Excellence award!
  2. I can wiggle my nose like Samantha on Bewitched. For reals. It freaks people out, yet I have no clue what sort of nasal muscles I developed to allow such strange movement.
  3. Speaking of freaking people out, when I get cold (which is often), my hands turn blue. Actually blue. And THAT scares people. Pretty sure it’s just poor blood flow.
  4. I play the viola, and have since the 4th grade. In fact, my orchestra concert is coming up next Sunday!
    Liebster Award |
  5. I used to have a profile, and actively participate in forums, on a Harry Potter-themed website (MuggleSpace). This is not only where I met Kailey, but also where I met my now-boyfriend! Funny how things turn out, eh?
  6. I write communications about chillers, building automation systems, energy solutions, and everything in between – that’s my day job and I love it!
  7. My “girly” obsession is earrings. I own hundreds of pairs (very few of them contain “real” gems), but always want more…despite having only one set of piercing.
  8. I’m a new Trekkie, thanks to my boyfriend. My iPhone’s background is the Klingon symbol (while the case makes my phone look like the TARDIS). I’m almost finished watching all of The Next Generation (I <3 Data!), and am about to embark on Deep Space Nine.
  9. The only game I play on my iPhone and tablet is Words with Friends. Makes sense, considering how much I enjoy writing :)
  10. I’ve written three novels, though none are published. All three were created during NaNoWriMo, a challenge which taught me much about myself, each year I participated.
  11. I have a lot of geeky, nerdy obsessions, but Harry Potter and LOST will always prevail among them. Ok, and maybe Doctor Who. And now Star Trek…

11 questions answered

  1. Which faction would you choose if you lived in the world of Tris Prior (Divergent)? Well, considering I’ve not seen Divergent, I’ll answer a similar question – which district would I live in in Panem (Hunger Games): I’d choose District 1 (making luxury items) but I bet I’d wind up in District 9, whose industry is grain…I could bake forever!
  2. What is your favorite thing about blogging? I love hearing from friends and family that they actually make the recipes I post on my blog. It’s heartwarming to know that people in my life, whether I know it or not, are affected positively by what I write. Cooking really does require passion, and if I can extend that beyond my own kitchen, I’m happy. :)
  3. What is the most random thing that you almost always have in your purse? Floss! Seriously. My dentist always gives us these tiny little floss containers, and I almost always have one (or more) in my purse.
  4. What are your most used kitchen items? (besides silverware, the fridge, sink or dishwasher) My food processor! Between my sister and myself, the motor on that poor little processor takes a beating. I think we collectively use it every other day for something. My cooking life has much improved with this gadget. My most BELOVED kitchen item is of course my hot pink KitchenAid Stand Mixer.
  5. What is your favorite season? Summer. Dear god I need summer!
  6. What would you do if you had an unlimited budget for your wedding? I’d have my wedding on a Mediterranean cruise! All friends and family would be able to join us. That specific cruise has been a dream vacation since my first cruise back in high school. My dress would be covered in pink Swarovski crystals, too.
  7. What is the best relationship advice you’ve ever received? Be with someone who makes you happy, and who you make happy. Glad I found that.

    Liebster Award |

    The boy and me :)

  8. What is a song that makes you happy every time you listen to it? This is a difficult question. I listen to a variety of music, and different moods require different songs to induce happiness. On an overcast day, Hotel California makes me happy. When I’m upset, AC/DC makes me happy. In the shower, salsa music makes me happy! And when I need to be productive, epic movie scores make me happy.
  9. Who is your favorite Avenger? Unpopular opinion alert! I don’t like the Avengers. In fact, I don’t like any super hero movies. But I do appreciate their aesthetic appeal ;)
  10. Which Disney Princess are you most like? According a Buzzfeed quiz, I’m Rapunzel: “Witty and outgoing, you have a sense of humor that always keeps people smiling. You are constantly on the look for adventure and don’t settle down easily.” While these quizzes are usually junk, I think this description is pretty accurate.
  11. What is the most ridiculous and/or embarrassing thing you’ve ever done? Oh goodness. I’m sure I do something ridiculous or embarrassing every day! To think of one instance is proving difficult.

11 blogs nominated

This list is meant to contain bloggers with less than 500 followers, but I’m a fan of bending the rules when needed.

  1. Old Things R New
  2. A Goal In Reach
  3. Organizing with a Side of Fabulous
  4. HumanBeans89
  5. MixedUpPainter
  6. Miss Marzipan
  7. Warm Toasty Muffins
  8. Veggie Angie
  9. Joanne Eats Well With Others
  10. My Foray Into Food Storage
  11. Ramble On (my sister’s blog!)

11 new questions

  1. Coffee or tea?
  2. Which Disney villain would be your BFF?
  3. What’s your favorite dessert?
  4. What one book would you want with you, if you became deserted on an island?
  5. Who would play you in the movie version of your life (aside from yourself)?
  6. Where/when would you go if you had ONE chance to travel through time and space?
  7. What goes onto your ideal sandwich?
  8. If you had a garden, what one plant, fruit or vegetable would you grow in it?
  9. What new food or ingredient have you most recently tried for the first time? Liked or disliked it?
  10. What’s the first thing you check on your phone or computer in the morning?
  11. What’s your favorite recipe right now?

Thanks again to Kailey for nominating me! This was indeed fun to write and compile. I look forward to my nominees’ answers!


Warm Buckwheat, Chickpea and Roasted Veggie Salad

16 Apr

It’s still cold outside, so roasting vegetables is my solution for warmth! Not only does roasting enhance the flavors of vegetables, it does a fine job of heating the kitchen!

Warm Buckwheat, Chickpea and Veggie Salad |

Chop up a big bowlful of veggies, toss in some chickpeas, and finish off your meal with hearty buckwheat. This recipe is quick to prepare, and lets you go about your business while it cooks! This is also a great way to use up any leftover vegetables: carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, squash and green beans would all work well in this. My kind of weeknight dinner.

Warm Buckwheat, Chickpea and Roasted Veggie Salad

Serves 4

  • 1 large onion (or 2 small), chopped in big chunks
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets, stems included
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika
  • 1 C uncooked buckwheat
  • 2.5 C water

Preheat oven to 375. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with PAM; set aside.

Prepare vegetables. Toss in a bowl with chickpeas and olive oil. Spread onto the rimmed sheet, sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika – a lot is ok! Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

In the meantime, bring water to a boil in a small covered pot. Stir in buckwheat and let boil 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let steam 30 minutes.

Transfer roasted vegetables to a large serving bowl. Stir in the cooked buckwheat. Serve warm and enjoy! If you have leftovers, heat up and serve with a runny fried egg atop – a personal favorite.

Taco Tuesday!

15 Apr

Happy Tuesday everyone. Well, *cold* Tuesday for us in the Midwest…it SNOWED last night! Is it April, or November again?! Regardless, tacos are a great way to brighten up any day, and spicy vegan tacos are a healthy way to do so at the same time! You’ll probably even have most of these ingredients in your fridge and pantry, so set up a toppings station, cook up this bean-filled vegetable filling and enjoy yourself a Taco Tuesday.

Taco Tuesday! |

So colorful!

Two-Bean Spicy Vegan Tacos

Serves 4


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 stalks celery (or one onion), diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds mostly removed, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 tbsp hot yellow pepper paste, such as this one
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To assemble:

  • 8-12 corn tortilla shells
  • plain nonfat Greek yogurt (non-dairy if vegan)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 lime, quartered

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high. Cook diced celery and bell pepper for five minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno and beans and cook another 5-7 minutes. Stir in the hot pepper paste (adjust amount to accommodate your spice preferences – the recipe as it is results in a very spicy filling), salt and pepper and allow to cook for another 5 minutes, making sure no liquid remains.

While all this cooks, prepare the toppings: set out the tortilla shells and Greek yogurt, cut the tomatoes and lime.

To assemble: Spoon filling into tortilla shells (2-3 per person). Squirt lime juice onto the filling, place a few tomatoes on top and a dollop of yogurt. Enjoy with a nice cold beer – Chris got me admit that I now like Dos Equis, but he admitted that he loved these tacos, so I’d say we’re even.

Taco Tuesday! |


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