Tag Archives: snack

Money Saving Monday–Welcome Back Courtney!

I’m back readers. Did you miss me during my vacation?

What’s that? You didn’t know I was taking a vacation? Shame! You’d have heard about it if you liked me on Facebook. Tsk tsk.

In reality, it wasn’t much of a vacation, since it was only a break from blogging. We were so busy, it was stupid. We had a lot going on. Here’s a recap for those of you not in the know:

We went to the zoo.

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I reunited with old friends, and saw some new ones.

We played hide and seek…kind of.

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I started a new job.

We celebrated Father’s Day with giant batches of brownies and our own…unique kinds of presents.

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We wore chef hats and fancy aprons.

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(Thank you Momma Kamper)

Olive made friends with some super heroes.

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I went to Comfest (giant festival we have in Columbus every year) for music, tie dye, and art.

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Someone turned five.

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And everyone ate pink cupcakes. Pink cupcakes that were AMAZING, I might add. Yes, you can have the recipe, but no, not today. I didn’t get to take any pictures of the process OR the cupcakes, due to the frightening speed in which they disappeared. I was enthusiastically told that they were the greatest thing I had ever baked. Later guys, you can have it later.

Besides, a whole week of comfort food and sweets and I’m done. When we grilled our dinner, we kept it simple–vegetables, corn, and baked beans. Easy, healthy, nourishing, delicious. Except there was just one problem. I didn’t have any dessert, energy, or cupcakes (those of you who ate more than one, I’m looking at YOU, jerks! Didn’t you know I was going to have cupcake breakfast?).

So we had apples. Because no matter how tired, broke, or sweet deprived I am, I always have apples, and they’ve never let me down.

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Grilled Apples
Serves Four
2 Apples
Cinnamon, to taste
Ginger, to taste
Blueberries, to garnish
Sugar (optional)

Cut the apples in half. Remove the core with a paring knife OR, if you’re my mother and managed to deeply cut yourself on tongs last week, a dull spoon, some elbow grease, and a lot of determination. A melon baller would probably also work fine.

Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon, ginger, and sugar, if using (you don’t need to, I think they’re amazing as is. But for a tart baking apple, a bit might help). Place the apples, cut side up, on the grill until they start to look soft. Turn them over for about a minute to cook the cut side. Remove from grill, fill cavities with blueberries while still hot, and then serve them to your family who ate waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many cupcakes last weekend, ate waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many chocolate donuts, and had waaaaaaaaay too many juiceboxes. Remind your significant other that apples are a dessert and no we do not need to go to the grocery store to pick up Swedish fish and no, you are not making him another batch of chocolate coconut fudge, and no, the fudge would not be healthier if you put peanut butter in it.

Seriously though, these are yummy, are nothing but fruit and spices, and are full of vitamins and nutrients that round out a meal perfectly. I’m not saying there isn’t a time for pink cupcakes or peanut butter fudge. But that time isn’t today.

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Because if she expects to be this fabulous all the time, she’s going to need the energy. She’s going to need apples.

Oh hell, who am I kidding. I need the apples.

Just Beet It

Readers, beets. Beeeeeets. Beets!

Seriously, what the hell do you do with beets?

When my reader/friend, Emily, asked me what to do when she got an extraordinarily large amount of beets from her farm share, I was at a loss. Beets are not things the crunchy house is familiar with. I’ve eaten canned beets before, and they were yummy. I’ve gotten them at salad bars and enjoyed them plenty. That, unfortunately, is the end of my experience with them.

I put Olive to the task of trying to figure them out.

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She had nothing. So I gave it my best shot.

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I poked. I prodded. I became the beet.

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I had nothing.

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The only thing I knew for sure about beets, was that they were root vegetables, so I did what I would with any root veggie and decided to roast them. For science!

(Emily is a science person. She has a lab coat and everything.)

Roasted Beets and Beet Based Vinaigrette
Two Recipes in One!
1 bunch beets (probably about three large beets)
2 tbs + 1/2 tsb Olive Oil
4-6 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 425F.

Wash the beets. If they’re anything like what I got at the store, they will be kind of gross. Once they are clean, cut the tops and bottoms off of them.

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I’ve heard one can eat the green leafy top part. I wasn’t about to risk it though. I had science to complete!

Quarter the beets.

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Take a minute to marvel at how awesome the inside of the beets look.

Throw them in a “roasting pan” (mine is actually just a baking pan 😦 ) and toss them with 2 tbs of oil and salt and pepper.

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The oil is overkill. The reason for that is because I thought it would be cool to use the excess oil as part of a salad vinaigrette. Good news, it was cool! If you only wanted to roast the beets you could get away with much less oil. I’ll talk about that on Friday though (TEASER).

Throw those in the oven for at least 30 minutes, or until a fork goes through them easily. During this time, you may be alerted to strange noises coming from your oven. Here’s a video that will explain: Beets are Loud. They’re easily the noisiest root veggie I’ve ever cooked.

During this time, you can assess how much your kitchen looks like a scene from CSI.

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Oh God, what have I done?

When they come out of the oven, take the beets out of the pan to cool and pour the oil into a bowl. Add the remaining half tablespoon.

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Whisk the oil and the vinegar together and add pepper to taste. Voila, you have salad dressing.

Once the beets are cool, you can peel the skin off with your hands. **A tip: Almost all root veggies peel more easily after cooking. Once they’re soft, the peels just sort of rub off. This includes potatoes!**

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So here’s the thing, you guys almost didn’t get a meal made out of these because THEY’RE DELICIOUS. Olive and I ate half of them while I tried to figure out what to put them on. I actually had to say the words, “Stop eating beets, you are going to ruin your dinner!” To myself, no less. My suggestion to Emily? Just roast these and have them on hand for snacking. My goodness, they are dee-lish!

But, if you’re feeling fancy and in need of your veggies, you can take some spinach, top it with walnuts, sliced strawberries, a handful (…ok, two handfuls) of beets, and drizzle a little vinaigrette over them.

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It is the single fanciest thing I’ve eaten all week. The acidity of the strawberries and vinegar with the odd but wonderful texture of the beet meet together beautifully. I wished I’d had some sliced oranges to throw on top, since I once had an orange and beet salad at a salad bar that was pretty amazing. Sadly, no oranges.

Still, it was super, duper yummy, and an excellent addition to the main course which was…

…um…beans and rice…

Shame.

Still, I felt pretty darn fancy while I ate the salad. I think that’s worth something, don’t you?

Money Saving Monday–Hungry? Ask For Your Kid’s Advice.

I’m not always a very good parent, readers. Sure, I get it right enough most of the time, or at any rate I haven’t done anything that would alert Children’s Services, but a good portion of Olive’s life has been me going, “Oh God!”

The day I brought her home I couldn’t figure out how to put a onesie on her. I had her sitting upright while desperately trying to keep her obscenely floppy neck from snapping in half (which is, naturally, what I assumed would happen) when my Aunt came into the room and took over. It was incredibly embarrassing and I felt absolutely terrible for subjecting my infant to what must have been the most horrible kind of pain. I may have been a bit over dramatic.

A few months later she caught her first cold. Infants can’t blow their nose, so I had to use the suction bulb. Olive HATES the suction bulb. She began to writhe and scream as I attempted to force the little tube up her nose. When I pulled out, a small drop of blood came out of her impossibly tiny nostril. I was positive I’d hit her brain. The doctor, thankfully, assured me otherwise.

Over the years I’ve made many a bad parenting move from ignoring her to letting her accidentally lock herself into a closet. To be honest, I’ve even dropped her a few times. I’m pretty much an incredibly negligent parent.

Every now and then though, I’m able to pull my head out of my own butt enough to pay attention to my kid and have a moment that’s not marked with bad parenting. This is good, because from what I understand she’s now at an age where she will remember our interactions. When she’s a grown up, I want her to look back on this time in her life and say, “I remember that time I told my mom I wanted banana flavored energy bars and we came up with a recipe right then and there,” as opposed to, “Man, Mom dropped me. A lot.”

Banana Nut Energy Cookies
2 Bananas
1/4 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, or sunflower butter are great choices)
1/2 cup almonds, ran through a blender or food processor until it forms a crumbly flour
1/2 cup oats (buy uncontaminated oats to make a gluten free version)
1 tbs cinnamon
1/4 cup dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put the bananas in a bowl and let your fabulous helper mash the crap out of them. This can be as dramatic a process as she chooses.

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Once it’s mashed, stir in the nut butter. Then stir in the oats and almonds.

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“Can it have raisins mommy?” “Oh, well I suppose it would have to, wouldn’t it?”

Stir in raisins.

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It’s ok guys, we’re going to bake them anyway. Also, I’m fairly certain she remembered to brush her teeth.

Add a little bit of the mixture to the bottom of 12 muffin cups. This is easier and less messy than trying to shape them on a cookie sheet…in theory.

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Again, I’m going to bake them. She may have even washed her hands.

On the plus side, I did manage to teach her a few good habits.

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Bake for fifteen minutes, or until they look kind of like this.

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They come out chewy, nutty, fruity, lightly sweet, and four year old approved.

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They even look like energy bars, and they cost almost nothing to make.

The best part about these bars though, is that they are little hand friendly. I don’t have to worry about her over stirring something to create a horrible glutoney mess (learned that lesson), nor do I need to be afraid that she’ll accidentally pull the mixer out too soon and I’ll spend the next hour washing the kitchen walls (learned that one too). Instead of the drama, we just squished a bunch of ingredients together and hoped for the best, and they came out just fine. With any luck, Olive will, too.

Unless I broke her from all those times I dropped her..

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Oh god…

I Bring You Muffins

Readers, if there is one single food that I screw up every time I try to “create” it’s bread. Don’t get me wrong, I do ok sometimes, but a good portion of the time I screw up proportions and get a dense, chewy, gluten-y mess. I wouldn’t feed this to my dogs. (I did however, let Mike eat them. His standards are lower than theirs, go figure.) This is because I didn’t fully understand the science of breads and cakes. I got that you needed leavening, and I understood that you shouldn’t over mix your batter, but I had for so long been trying to completely cut out the fat to make you a healthier, vegan baked good for your consumption.

Guys, that was a mistake, I’m so, so, sorry.

Some of you are probably alarmed because I just used the “f” word (Fat! Gasp!) but you just can’t have a proper baked good without it. Same goes for some form of sugar. The key with muffins is to not let them turn into cupcakes by raising those proportions beyond reasonable measure.

I did some research, some experimenting, and some soul searching, and when I came down from the mountain, I arrived with these:

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Cinnamon Raisin Muffins
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil (or other liquid fat. Melted Earth Balance works fine)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

First things first, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.

The next step I’m going to hold your hand for, because I hadn’t been doing it, and I totally should have. Instead of simply adding all the wet together, add the canola oil and apple sauce to a small bowl.

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Now whisk the crap out of it till it’s emulsified. It will look like this.

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The applesauce adds some extra moisture, but mostly it’s necessary to act as an egg. In most recipes, the egg evenly distributes fat, but for a vegan baked good pureed fruit works just fine. You just need to whisk it together first. After that just stir in the almond milk.

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Lovely. After that, it’s simple. Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl and stir JUST to combine. See if you can do it in under 15 strokes. The batter will be lumpy, oh yes, but so long as there aren’t massive pockets of dry ingredients, you should be good. Gently fold in the raisins. Easy.

Now just pour that goodness into some muffin cups. Go ahead, fill them up. Big muffins taste better. 🙂

**With any muffin recipe I feature you can just easily make a loaf of bread. Just pour the batter into a bread pan instead and increase the cooking time. I’d say 30-40 minutes should take care of it. I just really, really like the convenience of not having to portion them out, so I don’t make much bread.**

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Bake for 20 minutes and tada!

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Muffins! How easy was that?

The correct answer is “super duper.” I would also accept “redonkulously.”

You know what else? They’re really good, contain very little fat and sugar (especially compared to that monster you’ve been buying from Starbucks. Gee whiz! That thing’s awful!), are scrumptious, four year old approved (Olive has been begging for more since she took her first sample taste this morning), and perfectly acceptable as a breakfast, snack, or even part of lunch (I totally ate one for lunch). You really can’t buy a more nutritious muffin, and you shouldn’t anyway because it tastes better fresh. Also, this recipe is really adaptable–expect new and interesting ingredient combinations here in the future…and in my kitchen (Mike, Olive, I hope you’re hungry and don’t mind eating muffins three times a day for the next few months).

The best part, though? Learning how to make muffins taught me how to make cupcakes.

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To be continued…

12:15 PM

It’s the absolute worst time of day if you haven’t had time for a snack mid morning, or lacked the foresight necessary to pack one. I lacked the foresight.

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I’m not sure what Mike’s excuse was.

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It was clear that for either of us to be good parents, sustenance was necessary. Mike, lying starving on the floor, enlisted help.

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She made a pretty good effort, but she’s only a little girl.

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Summoning what little strength he had in his poor, malnourished muscles, he did his best to pull himself along.

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He almost made it, but sadly, salvation lay just out of reach.

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Good grief. Clearly this was up to me.

This was no ordinary hunger. This needed real, heavy, hearty food. I thought long and hard about what various leftovers or sandwich materials we might have on hand but all I could think about was nachos.

Eureka!

But wait! I don’t want fake cheese today! I’m tired of fake cheese! I need nutrients! I need protein! I need to make my own damn nacho sauce!

So I did.

Black Bean Queso

1 cup cooked black beans
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (I used canned)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chilli powder, more if you want more kick
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 cup of water
dash or two of hot sauce

Throw the ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour the sauce into a pan.

Ok, so it’s black. I sincerely hope that’s not a problem for you because it’s delicious and will taste delightfully “cheese”-y. Heat the sauce through, adjust spices as necessary:


Yes, this WAS necessary.

and keep warm on low while you prepare your nachos.

Nachos can be as complex or as simple as you like. I could see the sauce being a good dip at parties, or as a snack, but as I said, this was an EXTREME hunger. So I started with a serving of chips (just because I’m hungry doesn’t mean the whole bag is up for grabs. Unless I say so. But today I didn’t say so.):

Added an ample amount of spinach:

Added my delicious queso sauce:

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Threw on some grated carrots. (Sweet potato would have also been delicious.)

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My favorite Salsa:

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And my favorite fruit:

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For fun, see if you can match the other plates to the other members of my household!

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Hmmmm….huge serving, different salsa, spinach used sparingly, heavy on the avocado…I wonder…

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Small serving, refused a green fruit thrown on top, and demanded the same salsa as “Daddy.” Must be Mike’s 🙂

I placed our plates on the table, and within instants they were massacred. It’s amazing someone didn’t lose a finger.

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Yep, everything was all better.
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But don’t worry. I took one last picture before destroying them.

@#%$ you, 12:15 PM!

Stop Hitting the Bars!–or–How I Managed to Not Spend My Life Savings on Larabars

Readers, I can’t STAND the idea that any of us–me, you, your Aunt Ethel–ANYONE can purchase health. It’s disgusting how much some people charge for things that are supposed to improve your quality of life, appearance, weight, IQ, alertness, butt, whatever. Case in point, here is a blender you may have heard about–the Vitamix. Can you believe it’s only $450? It comes with a cookbook, but if you already have a Vitamix you can get the cookbook for the low, low price of $50! What a steal!

For the price of $450, you get…a blender! And to think I spent a measly $30 on mine!

Sure, it’s a really, really nice blender. Hell, from what I understand you can make your own peanut butter in it and that’s sort of cool, but at the end of the day, it’s a blender. Nothing more, nothing less. A blender.

Their marketing campaigns, like many other products meant to improve your health somehow, makes it sound like you NEED the Vitamix for optimum health, because if we make the same smoothie in different blenders mine will have less healthfulness to it. Sorry, I’m not buying it (literally), because if there is a difference, it is minimal.

Sometimes, a product really is different! For instance, there is a big, big difference between this: Quaker Chewy Granola Bars and these: Larabars, Kind Bars.

Not only do the last two have ingredients that you’ve likely heard of, they both contain considerably less sugar, and considerably more nutrition. In fact, Larabars are really just fruit and nuts mashed together. What a great product!

That’s why it’s so sad that as nutritionally amazing as this snack is, it’s so expensive. The cheapest I’ve ever seen it is $1 a bar, and that’s when it’s on SALE. I’ve seen these, and bars like these, sell for $2.50 a bar before.

Guys, I don’t think we have to be in the elite to be healthy. I don’t even think we need to be in the upper middle class. I sincerely believe that even working and lower class people have the ability to be healthy, with a little know how and willingness to try new things.

Which is why I made you this recipe, and I’m giving it to you for free. Because damn it, you deserve to eat something good today.

Easy, Healthy, Sugar Free Granola Bars
2 cups raisins
1 1/3 cups raw almonds
2 cups oats (yes, quick oats will work, but none of those flavored packet pieces of crap)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Soak the raisins in a bowl filled with warm water for fifteen minutes.

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Drain the raisins and set them aside.

Now, if you’re lucky to have a food processor, the next few steps are much easier. You’ll just throw all that crap into a food processor and let it go. If you have that luxury, meet me a few steps down, when we start to shape the bars.

Unfortunately, if you’ll remember, my food processor died, so I had to go through a few extra steps. The good news is, I now know what will and will not fly when you’re using a blender, so I’ve saved you some frustration.

Wish I could have had those ten minutes back, though.

First, pulse the almonds in a blender until they look about like this:

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Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Next, if you have big, fluffy, not crappy instant oatmeal, pulse that up a little bit. Don’t make oat flour! Just make the flakes a bit smaller.

Pour into the bowl with the almonds.

Finally, throw the raisins into the blender. Pulse them until what you’re looking at looks…well…unappetizing. It will look a bit like a paste. Raisin puree, I suppose.

Whatever you do, DO NOT try to blend all those ingredients together, or your blender will be ANGRY with you!

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See that? That’s a stopped up blender. Don’t DO that.

If you do the blender stuff they way I told you, that whole process will only take you about five minutes. If you do it like I did it you will become frustrated and ANGRY and it will take about fifteen minutes.

Next, mush all that stuff together with the cinnamon and nutmeg. I found it was best to use my hands.

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Pat them into bar shapes. I made ten bars, but you can make little mini bars, if you prefer eating lots of smaller snacks. They should be about this thick:

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Place them on a lightly greased baking sheet.

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Bake for fifteen or twenty minutes until golden brown. MAKE SURE YOU LET THEM COOL BEFORE EATING THEM!!!!

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Tuck these into your bookbag for a snack on the bus or at school, or enjoy one with a cup of coffee and some fruit in the morning. Either way, you’ll be saying “STUFF IT!” to all the people trying to separate you from your money, and an even bigger “STUFF IT!” to all the people trying to feed you refined carbs and extra sugar!

Feel free to stir in chocolate chips, whole raisins, or anything else you think tastes good in a granola bar. Seriously, these are DELICIOUS and really easy to personalize. I like peanut butter on top of mine!

I hope you love these and soon have a baggie with one in it on your commute. Enjoy! 🙂

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Ashley Week Part Four–You Deserve a Damn Cookie

Ashley is a trooper, guys. I’m not even kidding. During this week one of the worst things that possibly could have happened, happened, and she is taking it so much better than I would. I had a couple ideas in the old noggin for what her grand finale would be, but since she’s had two dinners and breakfast already, it’s time we tackle snack time, and not just any snack time, stressful snack time.

See, the problem with stress eating is that it’s the only time where you aren’t completely satisfied eating a piece of fresh fruit. You want something rich and comforting. Back in the day, I would de-stress with food like macaroni and cheese, or an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies. I’ve since found a nutritious alternative to the mac n’ cheese dilemma (not my recipe, sadly) but cookies, well, I’ve always just sort of let them be cookies.

But what if I told you that I found a way to turn a cookie into the nutritional equivalent of a high quality energy bar (think larabar) instead of a sugar laden sweet fest?

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“Withcraft!” screamed my readers.

Seriously though, if you guys make any of my recipes, make these. They’re delicious, amazing, and so good for you it’s downright stupid, and all of the ingredients are recognizable. This is also probably the simplest recipe in the history of cookies. Enjoy!

Energy Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
1 1/4 cup raw almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First things first, we’re going to make us some almond flour. I want to tell you guys that I just magically know how to do this, but that would be a total lie. I learned about a week ago from this lady’s cookie recipe. Essentially, you just pop the almonds into a blender or food processor and pulse it until you have a fine meal. With luck, it should look like this:

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Add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir to mix. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and raisins.

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Drop by the spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet.

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Bake for ten minutes, or until somewhat firm.

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Eaaaaaat!

Guys, these are AMAZING. They melt in your mouth and taste so decadent. My theory is the fat in the almonds replace the need for oils for flavor. Either way, they taste buttery, though they have no butter, and sweet, though they have almost no sweetener. You can feel free to omit either the chocolate chips (to have a more “oatmeal raisin” type cookie) or the raisins (to eat chocolate chip cookies!) but I really, really love the fruit and nut taste these cookies have.

My family LOVES them, and I’m glad because they taste like a cookie, but are essentially a handful of nuts and raisins mashed together. I win!

Prep and Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Points Plus Value: 2 (per cookie)

Ashley, come over and I will bake you a double batch of these for the week. You can eat a few in place of breakfast bars in the morning, or just have one or two as an afternoon snack. They are oh so good they will halt your sweet tooth and bring instant comfort.

Eat a damn cookie, guys. You deserve it.