Better Than Store-Bought Recipes

Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts

I love coffee-shop donuts as much as the next person, and maybe more. I don’t eat them very often because while they taste good going down, donuts usually bother my stomach afterwards. When I crave a hunk of sugary fried dough, I turn to baked Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts instead because they offer way more – and far less – than typical coffee shop choices.

maple walnut pumpkin donuts

Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts are a better choice for donut-lovers.

Maple pumpkin donuts with nuts are healthier

Donuts, including all the variations on pumpkin and maple offered at supermarkets, convenience stores, and coffee shops, supply little in the way of nutrition. Most store-bought donuts are fried, which jacks up the calorie and fat content.

Here’s how one of my maple walnut pumpkin donuts stacks up to a vanilla frosted donut (the closest I could find to my donut for the sake of comparison) from a national coffee shop chain.

My better-for-you version has:

• 212 calories versus 270 calories in the commercial donut.

• 1/3 the saturated fat.

• 3 times the dietary fiber, thanks to whole wheat flour and canned pumpkin puree

• 64% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A, primarily from pumpkin.

• Nearly 900 milligrams of potassium, about 20% to 30% of what most adults need for the entire day, largely from the pumpkin.

•1 serving of whole grains (Experts recommend at least 3 servings of whole grains daily.)

Donuts are not generally known for their health benefits, but this recipe is different.  It’s good to know that you’re getting so much in the way of nutrition along with great taste.

Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts

These baked maple walnut pumpkin donuts are delicious and nutritious.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: donutswithnuts, healthydonuts, maplewalnut, pumpkindonuts
Servings: 12
Calories: 212kcal
Author: ewardrd

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat two standard donut pans with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, and add the pumpkin, 1/2 cup of the maple syrup, vanilla, yogurt, and oil. Mix until well combined.
  • Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Don’t overmix.
  • Spoon the batter into the donut pans, filling to about 1/4″ shy of the rim, and making sure the center post is clear.
  • Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove donuts from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Remove donuts from pan and cool further.
  • To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and the milk and stir until smooth. Frost each donut and top with chopped walnuts.
    NOTE: For less added sugar, omit the glaze, and add the walnuts to the batter. If desired, coat warm donuts in maple sugar or a sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Notes

Per donut: 212 calories; 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat); 36 milligrams cholesterol; 220 milligrams sodium; 35 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber; 5 grams protein
maple walnut pumpkin donuts on a wire rack.

For less added sugar, skip the glaze and add the nuts to the donut batter.

Can’t get enough pumpkin? Try this Pumpkin Spice Smoothie and these Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour.

maple walnut pumpkin donuts pinterest

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Muffin Cups

No added sugar banana raisin oatmeal muffin cups

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Muffin Cups get their sweetness from fruit.

 

I love muffins, but I avoid the huge, high-calorie coffee shop and supermarket versions because they offer little in the way of nutrition and they are too sweet for me (and I LOVE sweets!). Save money and get a nutrition boost when you bake a batch of these simple, no added sugar banana raisin oatmeal muffin cups on the weekend to have for breakfast and snacks all week long. 



Want to eat less added sugar? Read this for easy tips. 


No added sugar banana raisin oatmeal muffin cups are healthy

Why are these muffins a better choice than most others?

For some reason, muffins have a health halo. People often think muffins are a healthy choice, but most are loaded with ingredients you just don’t need, such as added sugar and fat. Both contribute calories that you probably want to avoid. 

Consider this comparison. At about 380 calories, a bakery blueberry muffin has more than 100 calories than a chocolate frosted donut sold at a national chain coffee shop.  The blueberry muffin contains 38 grams of added sugar (about 9 teaspoons) while the donut has about 13 grams of added sugar (about 3 teaspoons)! 

This recipe has no added sugar, and doesn’t need any. Bananas and raisins supply natural sweetness, as well as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. My muffins are made with oatmeal and no refined flour, which means they are 100% whole grain. That’s also different from many commercial muffins which contain only refined white flour. 

Walnuts add crunch, heart-healthy fat, fiber, and protein, too. You could leave out the walnuts if you or anyone in your household has a tree nut allergy, but don’t eliminate them for the calories. Each one of these muffins has just 149 calories, a far cry from commercial types. 


Use gluten-free oatmeal to be sure these muffin cups don’t contain gluten.


Why I choose dairy milk 

The recipe for No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Muffin Cups calls for dairy milk, and that is one of the reasons why the protein content is relatively high. Muffins are not known for their protein, but each one of these supplies 4 grams, which is remarkable considering their smaller size. In addition, each muffin provides 80 milligrams of calcium, almost as much as one-third glass of milk. 

no added sugar banana raisin oatmeal cup batter in muffin pan

Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to fill each muffin cup.

If you’d like to replace the milk with a non-dairy alternative, I recommend unsweetened soy beverage. The protein, and calcium, content are comparable. Almond milk and other plant milks tend to be lower in protein, and may not contain added calcium and other nutrients, such as vitamin D. 

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Muffin Cups

Ripe bananas and raisins provide the sweetness in these delicious, moist, and gluten-free muffin cups! 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time18 mins
5 mins
Total Time28 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bananarecipe, glutenfree, muffins, no added sugar, wholegrain
Servings: 18
Calories: 149kcal
Author: ewardrd

Ingredients

  • 3 cups oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. (I find this works better than lining the pan with paper liners because the muffins tend to stick to the paper.)
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined. Whisk in the milk.
  • Pour the banana mixture into the oats mixture. Add the raisins. Stir well to combine. The batter has a lot of liquid in it, so it will be soupy.
  • Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with batter (a scant 1/4-cup full).
  • Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, with the muffins still in the pan. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on the wire rack. 
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Notes

Per serving: Calories: 149, Carbohydrate: 21 grams, Fiber: 2 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Fat: 6 grams, Saturated fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 23 milligrams, Sodium: 142 milligrams, Calcium: 81 milligrams.

 

No added sugar banana raisin oatmeal cups

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Added Sugar Shamrock Shake (vegan)

vegan matcha green smoothie shake

Fast food green drinks are fun to sip, especially around St. Patrick’s day, but they are usually overly sweet and low on nutrition. If you’re looking for a healthier beverage, this no added sugar shamrock shake is for you.

This delicious drink supplies one and a half servings of fruits and vegetables, nine grams of fiber, calcium, heart-healthy fat, and much more, and it gets some of its vibrant color from matcha. 

What is matcha? 

Matcha is ground green tea that’s typically used to make a hot beverage. As a powder, matcha is potent and a little goes a long way in terms of flavor and color.

Does matcha have health benefits? 

Matcha and other green tea contains antioxidants that may fight cancer.  Drinking green tea on a regular basis is linked to lower blood pressure and lower levels of LDL, or bad, cholesterol in the blood.

However, there’s not much research on matcha itself. Even though matcha is a type of green tea, experts aren’t sure that it has the same effects as other green tea on health.

Does matcha have caffeine? 

Matcha contains caffeine, but relatively low levels. As a result, this no added sugar shamrock shake provides a gentle energy lift, rather than a jolt.

different kinds of matcha green tea powder

I use McCormick Gourmet Organic Matcha Green Tea with Ginger Seasonings*.  It supplies about 4 milligrams of caffeine per serving, which is the same amount of caffeine as 12 ounces of decaffeinated coffee.

vegan matcha green smoothie with a bowl of matcha powder

When you make the smoothie with regular matcha, the caffeine content is about 50 milligrams, which is still far less than coffee. For example, 16 ounces of Starbucks coffee has 330 milligrams caffeine.

I hope you enjoy this better-for-you drink that you can make with a soy beverage so that it’s vegan, or with dairy milk. It’s your choice!

No Added Sugar Shamrock Shake

A delicious and nutritious version of sugary fast food milkshakes.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: banana, greensmoothie, milkshake, shamrockshake, vegansmoothie
Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup baby spinach or kale
  • 1/2 medium frozen banana, sliced
  • 1/2 pitted ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened fortified soy beverage or 1% low fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp. matcha

Instructions

  • Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. 
  • Blend on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth.
  • Pour into a glass and drink immediately.

Notes

Nutrition information: 281 calories; 16 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat); 6 milligrams cholesterol; 76 milligrams sodium; 32 grams carbohydrate; 9 grams fiber; 8 grams protein

*I did not receive compensation or product from McCormick or Organic Living Superfoods and they are not my clients.

green match smoothie drink

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter “Ice Cream”

Eating a more plant-based diet doesn’t mean ditching dessert.  Indulge in this Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter “Ice Cream.” It’s satisfying, heart-healthy, vegan, and it’s even gluten-free!

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter "Ice Cream" with frozen bananas is vegan

Frozen bananas and peanut butter make this “ice cream” vegan, gluten-free, and delicious!

Is Ice Cream Bad for You?

I’m not a big believer in “good and bad foods” because it takes away from the importance of an overall healthy eating pattern.  Healthy eating patterns can include all types of foods.

I didn’t set out to make this ice cream vegan or gluten-free; it just happened that way! I just looking for a dessert that would satisfy me as much as real ice cream. While ice cream has more fat and added sugar than this homemade creamy chocolate peanut butter concoction, I still eat it. Choosing this vegan alternative provides a delicious way to include more plant foods.

How to Make Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Vegan Nice Cream

Bananas are the silent ingredient in this healthy frozen delight, and they make it unnecessary to add dairy products and sugary sweeteners. The ripest bananas are the sweetest and make the creamiest “nice cream.”

Bananas also offer fiber and potassium, and are responsible for the smooth, rich texture of this creamy chocolate peanut butter treat. One portion of “nice cream” also supplies a serving of fruit.

I keep chunks of frozen banana in the freezer to use on a moment’s notice. You can also freeze chopped bananas for at least two hours before making this, or other recipes, such as smoothies. You can also buy bags of sliced, frozen bananas to have on hand.

frozen sliced bananas in resealable plastic bag

Keep frozen bananas on hand to make “ice cream” fast.

The Health Benefits of Cocoa Powder

You’ve probably heard that dark chocolate is good for you.  Milk and dark chocolate are a mixture of ingredients, including sugar, and cocoa butter, the fat that is removed from cocoa beans during processing.  Cocoa powder is the dried solids that result from that processing and it is ground up, packaged, and found in grocery stores.

Unsweetened cocoa powder contains flavonoids, which are plant-based compounds. An eating plan rich in flavonoids is linked to  less inflammation in the body, proper blood flow, and reducing blood pressure. Cocoa powder that is not “Dutch-process” is richer in flavonoids.

I use unsweetened cocoa powder in my “ice cream” because it delivers deep chocolate flavor without any added sugar. You can also add cocoa powder to savory dishes, such as chili, to amp up flavor and nutrition.

 

Bowl of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Cocoa powder provides intense chocolate flavor without the fat.

 

Why Peanut Butter is Good For You

“Is peanut butter bad for you?” is a question that I get a lot. My answer: only if you are allergic to peanuts!

Peanut butter is a source of several nutrients, including protein, heart-healthy fats, and potassium. Just two tablespoons of peanut butter provides an excellent source of manganese (not to be confused with magnesium!).  Manganese is a mineral that your body needs to make energy, protect cells from damage, and support a healthy immune system, among other functions.

Natural peanut butter is often free of added sugar. If you’re want  to limit sugar, check the package to be sure the peanut butter doesn’t contain added sugars.  Learn how to make homemade peanut butter with no added sugar from Sally Kuzemchak over at Real Mom Nutrition. (Hint: It’s easy!)

creamy peanut butter adds healthy fats to vegan ice cream with frozen bananas

 

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter "Ice Cream" (Vegan)

This dairy-free vegan "ice cream" is delicious and offers a serving of fruit, too!
Prep Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolatepeanutbutter, dairyfree, peanutbutterdessert, vegan, vegandessert, veganicecream
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 medium ripe bananas, cut into chunks and frozen (Freeze for at least 2 hours.)
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter (with no added sugar, if desired)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped peanuts

Instructions

  • Place bananas in a large food processor. 
  • Add the peanut butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla.  
  • Blend until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with peanuts. Serve immediately.

Notes

 
Per serving: 
252 calories; 12 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat); 0 cholesterol; 132 milligrams sodium; 29 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams fiber; 7 grams protein

bowl of creamy chocolate peanut butter vegan ice cream with no added sugar

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

These No-Bake Peanut Butter Cereal Bars are ready in less than 5 minutes.

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars are easy to make and require no baking.

I love energy bars, but most store-bought varieties are too expensive for me, too sweet, or they leave an aftertaste. I thought I could do better, and I came up with these delicious no-bake Peanut Butter Cereal Bars that are packed with protein and fiber.

No-Bake Healthy Snacks that are Budget-Friendly

These bars are delicious, and one of the best parts is that you don’t have to bake them!  Peanut butter and maple syrup (or honey) hold the bars together and makes them moist and chewy.

I wanted this recipe to be cost-effective and I chose peanut butter because it’s the least expensive type of nut butter.

Chunky peanut butter provides extra crunch in this recipe. If you don’t have chunky peanut butter, use creamy and add 1/3 cup chopped peanuts.


Honey is often less expensive than 100% pure maple syrup, but it’s not a vegan ingredient. Maple syrup works just as well as a sweetener and to hold the other ingredients together.

Raisins supply sweetness without added sugar, and they are likely to be the least costly dried fruit, and even less when you buy store brands.  (Learn how to cut back on sugar here.)

If you substitute a higher-fiber whole grain ready-to-eat cereal for Cheerios, the cost to make the peanut butter cereal bars may be higher, and the calorie count could increase.

How to Make Vegan Energy Bars

You have a choice to help hold these bars together: honey or maple syrup.  I don’t have a preference, but if you want a vegan version, use maple syrup.  Pure maple syrup can be pricey, and since you really don’t taste it in the recipe, use whatever brand you can afford.


Each bar supplies 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber! 

How to Make Nut-Free, Gluten-Free Energy Bars

Yes, the basis of these energy bars is peanut butter, but you can make them nut-free by using sunflower seed butter, soy nut butter, or sesame seed butter.

Cheerios are gluten-free.  Be sure to choose certified gluten-free oats to be sure that you are buying a gluten-free product.

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars have just five low-cost ingredients.

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars have just five relatively low-cost ingredients.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

These delicious bars supply 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, use 5 ingredients and take 5 minutes to put together! 
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time49 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: peanut butter cereal bars
Servings: 12
Calories: 302kcal
Author: ewardrd

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter Use no added sugar peanut butter, if desired.
  • 1/2 cup California raisins
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 2 cups oats, uncooked
  • 2 cups plain Cheerios, or store-brand equivalent

Instructions

  • Coat a 8″ x 8″ baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Press the bar mixture evenly into the pan. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  • Cut into 12 squares. Keep refrigerated.

Notes

Nutrition Information: Per serving: 302 calories; 17 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat); 0 cholesterol; 191 milligrams sodium; 31 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams fiber; 10 grams protein.


Need a chocolate fix? Toss 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips into the bar mixture. Mini chips better distribute the chocolate flavor, so you use can use less of them! 

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cereal Bars can also be vegan.

Use maple syrup instead of honey to make these gluten-free Peanut Butter Cereal Bars vegan.

Serving suggestion: Pair with eight ounces of dairy milk or a carton of Greek yogurt and a banana. You’ll get a serving each of fruit, dairy, and whole grains, as well as at least 20 grams of protein, the minimum amount of protein you should have at every meal.

pin for Peanut Butter Cereal Bars no bake

 

8 Easy to Make, Better Than Store-bought Foods

There are a few everyday foods I don’t buy anymore, including cranberry sauce, salad dressing, and almond butter, because they are easy to make at home, and they taste better.  On the flip side, there are several so-called convenience foods I can’t do without. I asked a few of my foodie friends about what they absolutely must make from scratch, as well as their “processed food” picks that get healthy meals on the table fast, and they served up these eight easy to make, better than store-bought foods!

Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, Nutritioulicious

Must-have homemade food: Peanut sauce

Why: “Most packaged peanut sauces are really high in sodium and sugar, so I’d rather make my own using natural, unsweetened peanut butter and adding my own amount of sweetener. I also add other flavor boosters like freshly grated ginger and sriracha, which packaged peanut sauces don’t have. Give it a whirl in the blender or food processor and it’s easy as can be!”

thai-chicken-satay-001-e1421890042788

Favorite convenience food: Canned beans

Why: “I love adding beans to salads, pasta dishes, sauces, and grain side dishes, but I would not use them as frequently as I do if I had to soak and cook them on my own. Time is of the essence when I’m trying to get dinner on the table in my house! A lot of people are hesitant to buy canned beans because of the sodium content, so I recommend buying the no-salt-added canned beans if you can find them and always drain and rinse the beans before adding to a dish.”

Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN, JaniceCooks

Must-have homemade food: Sweet and Hearty Beef Stew

Why: “It tastes better than the canned kind, and it’s better for you. My beef stew has half the sodium, twice the protein, and four times the fiber and vitamin A as the canned variety. It takes just minutes to toss the ingredients into the slow cooker and a hearty, tasty dinner is ready to serve a few hours later.”

10444937865_2f019444f1

Favorite convenience food: Canned pumpkin.

Why: “I tried cooking and mashing fresh pumpkin once and decided that it would be the last time. Canned pure pumpkin is so convenient and nutritious that I stock up every fall to be sure I can use it year round. I use it in muffins, pancakes, smoothies, even chili  and enchiladas! ”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, Nutrition Starring You

Must-have homemade food: Vegan ice cream

Why: “I don’t like the taste of store-bought vegan ice cream. It’s always high in added sugar and not nearly as high in protein as my version.”

banana-fudge-vegan-ice-cream-e1454809912675

Favorite convenience food: Bagged salad.

Why: “I couldn’t live without pre-washed greens, especially the cabbage blends because they are super filling and don’t get soggy so you can enjoy them for several meals. (Close second: rotisserie chicken for fast, easy lunches and dinners.)”

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, Real Mom Nutrition

Must-have homemade food: Salad dressing

Why: “Once I started making my own salad dressing, it was impossible to go back to the gloppy bottled kind–especially the ones with preservatives and artificial dyes.”

quickvinaigrette

Need more salad dressing ideas? Here’s 50 of them.

Favorite convenience food: Jarred pasta sauce

Why: “You can’t beat the convenience of it, and jarred sauce plus frozen ravioli is a last resort meal that saves us from ordering pizza or getting other take-out food. Pair that combination with prewashed greens and dinner is ready in 15 minutes!”

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, Amy Gorin Nutrition

Must-have homemade food: Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites

Why: “Unlike a lot of store-bought versions of energy bites, balls, and bars, my recipe contains no added sugar. Plus, they’re delicious!”

almond-pistachio-cocoa-bites

Favorite convenience food: Frozen fruit

Why: “Unsweetened frozen fruit is great for when I don’t have fresh in the house. It’s also sometimes preferable. When I use it in smoothies, I don’t need to add ice. And when I heat it up and use it as a topping for a bowl of oatmeal or French toast, it creates a nice liquid that can replace other toppings like syrup or brown sugar.”

Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, Shaw’s Simple Swaps

Must-have homemade food: Jam

Why: “I love to make homemade jam not only because I can control the added sugar content, but also because I load it with wholesome, nutrient-rich ingredients, like omega-3 chia seeds, fiber-filled figs and other seasonal fresh fruit. The possibilities are endless!”

20160807_083056

Favorite convenience food: Whole grain bread

Why: “I can’t live without whole grain bread! Sure, I can make my own, but there’s nothing like a nice, fresh loaf of 100% whole grain bread with seeds from the store that you can simply take out of the bag and place in the toaster for a quick avocado toast lunch!”

Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD, Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

Must-have homemade food: Chocolate syrup

Why: “This beautifully glossy chocolate syrup is a tasty alternative to what you’ll find in the supermarket, products that often have artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and mystery ingredients.”

img_7964

Favorite convenience food: Frozen fruits and vegetables (among so many others!).

Why: “A bag of frozen spinach within reach is a quick way to up the health benefits of everything from stews to smoothies, and frozen spinach is great in smoothies along with frozen fruit. The nutrient values of frozen fruits and vegetables stay largely intact when produce is put under the deep freeze.”

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN 

Must-have homemade food: Granola

Why: “Most store-bought granola is loaded with added sugar and fat. My version has sugar and fat, too, but the fat is the heart-healthy unsaturated kind from nuts, and I add just enough pure maple syrup for a touch of sweetness.

Allspice or Chinese five spice powder provides added sweetness without sugar. For variety, I add 1/4 cup dried wild blueberries or unsweetened coconut during the last few minutes of baking. Add whatever you like to make it your own recipe.”

img_7833

Kathleen Zelman’s Granola

3 ½ cups old fashioned oats
2 cups finely chopped nuts of your choice (I love to mix pistachios, almonds, walnuts and pecans)
¼ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pure maple syrup
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder

Preheat oven to 325˚F. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, stirring well to combine.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Transfer the granola to the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning once, or until golden brown. Higher heat burns the nuts.

Favorite convenience food: Canned petite diced tomatoes.

Why: “These little gems are the perfect addition to so many recipes. They add color, flavor, texture, fiber, and other nutrients. I put them in egg dishes, soups, sauces, stews, guacamole, chili, salsa, spaghetti sauce and anything with a red sauce. You can purchase them fire-roasted, with herbs and spices, and with no added salt.”

8 Easy to Make, Better Than Store-Bought Foods pinterest image

Healthy Walnut Raisin Quick Bread

Loaf of healthy walnut raisin quick bread.

Healthy Walnut Raisin Quick Bread is delicious and good for you, too.

I love to bake, and this Healthy Walnut Raisin Quick Bread is a favorite of mine.

It took a lot of tries to get this recipe to work.  As a recipe developer, I’ve goofed by cutting back too much on one ingredient or another. You can benefit from my mistakes because I finally got it right this time!

Making Healthy Bread Without Yeast

When yeast is in short supply and when time is tight, quick breads, including muffins, scones, biscuits, and cornbread, are appealing to home bakers. Quick breads rise because they contain baking powder or baking soda (or both) and eggs.

As an impatient baker, I like to bake once, and eat twice.  Healthy Walnut Raisin Quick Bread makes two loaves (or 24 muffins), and freezes well if you don’t need all of it at once.

How to Reduce Added Sugar in Quick Breads

The problem with many quick bread recipes is that they are full of added sugar. I have a sweet tooth, and I can easily go overboard with granulated, and brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, and honey – all added sugars – but cutting back too much can be disastrous for baked goods.

This recipe is not free of added sugar. However, I’ve decreased the sugar content by using unsweetened applesauce, which also stands in for some of the oil, and raisins, which contribute natural sweetness. In addition to reducing added sugar levels, applesauce and raisins improve taste and texture, and add phytonutrients (protective plant compounds), potassium, and other nutrients.

Nuts Add Nutrition to Healthy Walnut Raisin Quick Bread 

I see a lot of quick bread recipes with chocolate chips, and, to tell the truth, my kids favor those! I’m not such a big fan, though. Even though I love chocolate, I substitute nuts.

I’m always looking for opportunities to improve nutrition without sacrificing taste. In this case, I’ve used walnuts, which supply protein, fiber, phytonutrients, and heart-healthy unsaturated fat. I love the crunch that they lend to the bread, too.

Also, to increase whole grain content, I swapped some whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, and I added oats.  You could use even more whole wheat flour, or make other substitutions. Here’s how.

Healthy walnut raisin quick bread made into muffins.

You can make this recipe as muffins, if you like.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much I do!

Healthy Walnut Raisin Bread

Try this healthier version of a delicious quick bread!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: quickbread, raisins, walnuts
Servings: 24

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats, uncooked
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Coat two loaf pans with cooking spray or line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, oatmeal, brown sugar, raisins, and walnuts. Stir until well combined.
  • Place the applesauce, canola oil, eggs, and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. 
  • Add the applesauce mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not overmix. 
  • Fill the loaf pans with the batter, dividing it evenly between the 2 pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pans and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing. If you're making muffins, cook for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Notes

Per slice or muffin:
219 calories,
11 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat),
228 milligrams sodium,
29 grams carbohydrate, 
6 grams added sugars,
2 grams fiber,
4 grams protein

pin for healthy walnut raisin quick bread

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