That’s right. Sadness. Not Madness.
It’s interesting how people who don’t normally give a rip about basketball are suddenly obsessed in March. It brings back nightmares of football season–and I like football. No, I don’t care about your fantasy football team. I equally don’t care about your March Madness bracket. When will this month just be over so I can go back to watching my regularly scheduled programming?
I would say the only upside of the madness that ensues is the potential for some good eats at a March Madness gathering. I was recruited by Anytime Health to create this March Madness “Top-Picks” recipe post. Check it out over there! Just a couple of healthy dips so you too can do some serious dunking at your next b-ball party. Swoosh!
7-Layer Mediterranean Dip
I am not Irish in any way, shape, or form. Hence why I’ve always been hesitant to fully partake in the festivities surrounding St. Patrick’s Day. I just feel like a fake. It also doesn’t help that I didn’t acquire my father’s love of beer–green or otherwise. It appears only my brother inherited the beer gene (to my father’s dismay when he comes home to an empty mini-fridge).
However, the festivities this year were, well let’s just say, more aligned with my values (ACTIVE and DURING THE DAY). The day began with a little (or long) run along Shepard Rd in St. Paul. Just me, my aunt Lis, and like 3000 other eccentrically dressed individuals. Having not trained even a little bit for this triple 7K (otherwise known as a half marathon) I ran but 7 or 8 miles before calling it quits.
As you can imagine I worked up quite the appetite in my (half of a) half marathon so a St. Patrick’s themed brunch was just what I needed to refuel. Never in my life have I seen so much green food coloring. Somehow I managed to escape that brunch without consuming anything that wasn’t naturally green. Though T informed me that all the food would be provided, I scoffed in her face and said, “Of course I’ll be bringing cupcakes. They’re my thing.” So green cupcakes were what I brought. Give the people what they want.
Green (?) Velvet Cupcakes
-1 cup whole wheat flour
-1.5 cups all purpose flour
-1.5 cups sugar
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tbsp cocoa powder
-1 cup buttermilk
-1 tsp distilled white vinegar
-1.5 cups canola oil
-0.25 oz green food coloring
-1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 F. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients. With a standing mixer or hand mixer, beat together wet ingredients. Gradually add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Scoop into 24 muffin tins. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
-2 packages 1/3 less fat cream cheese
-2 sticks of butter
-3 cups powdered sugar
-2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat room temperature cream cheese and butter with vanilla until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar until frosting is desired consistency.
There come times in my life, scratch that–everyones’ lives, where you just have to not give a damn. For me, that time was last week.
Twenty-three years of magnificent life warrants a pretty big celebration (so does 22 years and 24 years, but that’s beside the point) or in my case a pretty big cake. And that’s just what I got. This is where the whole not giving a damn part really comes into play.
Food has been and forever will be classified into two categories (thanks to a gaggle of infamous women, you know who you are), those that are “worth the calories” and those that are “not worth the calories”. Now this cake was with hesitation classified as “worth it”–so much so that I considered creating an additional category entitled “so worth the calories I won’t eat anything else because it’s just that good”.
To acknowledge the most amazing 23 years of his life, Dad agreed (with some assistance from yours truly) to attempt the “Viking” cake from Extraordinary Desserts–a unique bakery we stumbled upon many years ago in San Diego that most definitely lives up to its name. Six pages of directions, $50 of ingredients, and multiple trips to the grocery store(s) later, we embarked on this epic adventure. Just him, me, and the Kitchen Aide mixer.
In 2 days Dad created cake. On the 3rd day we ate it. And it was good.
Chocolate Sour Cream Cake infused with a Chocolate Simple Syrup
Chocolate Cream Brulee
Milk Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate Almond Praline
I used to say my mother’s banana chocolate chip muffins were my favorite food. Then I went to college, became interested in nutrition, and realized muffins are just cupcakes with a better reputation. As a self-proclaimed “cupcake addict” the idea of this doesn’t seem to bother me. I would be a liar if I told you I didn’t eat something sweet everyday. In fact, there is probably more nutritional value in that banana chocolate chip muffin than my usual indulgences.
However, in an attempt to curb in sugar addiction (and save money at my next dental appointment), I attempted this “healthier” version of your traditional banana bread/ muffins. Now I will warn you, this recipe is paleo-friendly. There seems to be this certain stigma whenever I tell people something is paleo–as if I’m saying I’m on a diet. While most followers of any so-called fad diet would define success as losing weight, for me it’s more about swearing off sugar (and in this case grains and dairy).
Paleo Naner Bread
3 ripe bananas
4 Tablespoons Earth Balance, melted
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
2 Tablespoons flax meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350º. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Whisk in butter, eggs and vanilla, combining thoroughly. In a medium bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients (except walnuts). Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula to combine. Stir in the walnuts. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 55 minutes, until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.
As a former Crossfit buddy said, “The paleo-diet gets mixed reviews. It’s not for everyone. Do what brings you healthy results”… and happiness. I added happiness :)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am a total grandma. And I’m perfectly content with this status.
Most almost 23 year olds would choose to spend their birthdays at their favorite bar with a group of equally “happy” friends (<feel free to insert your own definition of “happy” here). I, on the other hand, have never been a fan of the bar. Especially the ones without spacious dance floors. I mean honestly, what is the point? Rather, for the third consecutive year I chose to celebrate the day of my birth with a few good friends and a few too many calories. Thank you to Loring Pasta Bar for serving one of the most glorious brunch buffets in buffet history. The itinerary for the day was as follows…
11 am – Festivities commence with brunch at Loring Pasta Bar
additional (optional) activities:
#1. Contemplate a nap (group or individual, participant’s choice). Don’t actually take one. Move on.
#2. Paint Your Plate – let your inner grandma out and get yo’ craft on!
#3. Eat cake.
And what a lovely day was had by all.
There is something about sprinkles that just makes everything better. It’s like the secret ingredient, “love”, that every mother jokes about is actually visible. And can we all not be reminded to love a little bit more of every day every once in a while?
Now normally I attempt to “healthify” my cupcake recipes. Makes me feel less guilty about eating the entire batch. Nope–not this time around. I’ve come to the realization that no one truly appreciates the “healthify”-ing as much as I do. Just picture this scenario for a hot minute: girl walks into a party–large container of cupcakes in hand. Party-goers rush to greet her, curious as to the contents of said container. “Oooooooo, cupcakes!” they exclaim, mouths watering. “Weeelllllllll,” the girl says hesitantly, “they’re healthy cupcakes. I __________________ (<insert whatever weird alteration I made to deem them a healthier version of the original)”. Excitement gone. And just like that I force these people to eat less than perfect cupcakes and pretend to like them so as to not hurt my feelings. No. Not doing it anymore. For the sake of the party-goers! I will not subject them to yet another experimental cupcake without thorough testing. Note: actively recruiting participants for a sensory study. Must like “cupcakes”.
That said, I felt it was my duty as a nutritionist and advocate for healthy eating to at least make the cupcakes portion controlled if I could not make them healthier and edible simultaneously.
Homemade Funfetti (mini) Cupcakes
makes 24+ mini cupcakes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy (~3 minutes). Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients. Fold in sprinkles.
Pour into cupcake tins and fill 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool and then frost!
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of milk, if needed
food coloring (optional)
Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixture until completely smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar slowly. Gradually increase mixer speed and add vanilla, then beat 2-3 minutes. If frosting is too thick, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Add sugar gradually if too thin.