Zucchini with Lemon Cream Cheese

Flashback to June 2013. I laughed in my dad’s face as he suggested a more sugar-free business model for bubbles+sprinkles. I laughed, not because eating healthy isn’t important to me, (I’m what you call an any-vore– I’ll try anything once), but because how much fun is a sugar-free cupcake? Cupcakes, [and bubbly], to me invoke connotations of celebrations, frivolous and serious. I see them as a way to break loose from your daily routine tracking calories and meeting deadlines. But I think I’m eating a bit of humble pie this week, as I tried my hand at Zucchini Cupcakes.

They were inspired by some lovely friends of mine, whom I met while visiting Guatemala. We’ve remained in touch over the past year, so I have to give kudos to the Peters family for this idea.

But guys, it was HARD! Baking with fruit and veggies means that sometimes a couple of iterations of a recipe are necessary. And I have no shame in admitting that this was a two-batch week. The first batch just didn’t dome as much as I would have liked and I didn’t get the cornbread-esque taste that I was going for. I checked. I adjusted. And I’m a fan of the following recipe:

Cupcakes (makes 12):
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 zucchini (10 ounces), coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frosting:
  • 16 oz confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • The juice of a lemon
  • Lemon peel for garnish

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Preheat oven to 375– a bit higher than normal. We’ve got some ingredients here that are a little bit more dense. Line cupcake tin and set aside. Combine cupcake ingredients and fold in zucchini, in large bowl. Here’s the kicker- don’t. over. mix. If you over mix recipes like this one, you’ll create pockets of air in the batter. This is a surefire (heh, pun) way to bake sunken cupcakes. If you’re using an electric mixer, I recommend 1:30 – 2 min on medium. If you’re doing it by hand: 3 min, tops. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way and bake for 25 minutes (again- a little bit longer).

While your cupcakes cool, let’s whip up some lemon cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese can be sticky to work with, I encourage you to get your hands dirty. Mix all frosting ingredients, ensuring that no seeds from the lemon slip in there. Frost your cupcakes and garnish with slices of lemon peel. I dipped mine in excess sugar for extra sweetness. Another option? Check out this video to learn how to make that perfect curly-Q.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Xo,
Jenna

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Chocolate Cupcakes for my Paleo Friends

When this blog was but a young baby blog, my dad used to pester me about sharing healthy recipes for my beloved cupcakes. I would shoo him away, my cupcakes would be grandiose, full of sugar and fat, a treat after an active and healthy week.

But over time, it wasn’t just my dad. My friends on detoxes would stare longingly at the Sunday cupcakes, the acquaintances and work buddies who were celiac or on gluten-free diets would have to shun my cupcakes when I brought them in on Mondays. Slowly the weights shifted to a world where I was the fatty, glutinous outcast.

I’m being slightly dramatic, but it was definitely a great wake-up call. Here was an opportunity to bring my darling cupcakes into an arena where friends and family wouldn’t feel bad after inhaling two or three. So yes, you read that title right. Tonight, I delved into paleo, gluten-free chocolate cupcakes. Disclaimer– I know that I have readers and friends who would still see this recipe as not 100% paleo or gluten free. Just know that I tried. I stuck my toe in the pool. I promise to continue to refine the recipes that I regularly post so that they’re appetizing to each and every one of you.

It was easier than I thought. I have so much respect for those of you that operate on a selective diet, because your shopping list is probably much shorter than mine. It was more about removing ingredients from the cupcakes and the frosting, and then making a couple substitutions. I only added one important ingredient, and that was a crumble from Paleo Eats. Paleo Eats is a company based out of Bend, Oregon, a place truly special to me. The Paleo Eats team sent me three different paleo bars to try– Coffee Bean Bar, Chai Spice Bar, and Coconut Cacao Bar. These three snacks were not only the inspiration for my cupcakes this week, they were also a delicious post-run snack as I kick off training for my next marathon. They’re chewy, flavorful and filling on their own. But as I nibbled away on Chai Spice after a run, I realized that these three bars could serve as the final touch on my paleo cupcakes.

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Cupcakes (makes 12):

  • 1 cup  cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paleo baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Frosting:

  • 3 sweet potatoes or 16 oz butternut squash
  • 2 cups melted dark chocolate
  • Paleo Eats bars for garnish

^easiest frosting ever, am I right?

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Heat oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake tin. Combine all cupcakes ingredients, first the dry, then fold in the wet. The mixture will be pretty thick, but it will resemble chocolate cupcake batter to a T. Fill your cupcake liners 3/4 liners full and bake 20 minutes. The cupcakes will resemble ooey gooey chocolate brownies, a welcome sight in my eyes. While they cool, boil 3 sweet potatoes or microwave butternut squash cubes. Then melt your dark chocolate. Combine dark chocolate and squash or potatoes. Finely break bars into small pieces. Dip cooled cupcakes first into frosting mix and then into crumble. Share with friends… or don’t…

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No bubbly this week, but a few on the horizon that I’m excited to share. Stay tuned…

Xo,
Jenna

All Things Coconut

Coconut could rule the world if it wanted to. Remember what My Big Fat Greek Wedding did for Windex? It would appear that coconut has filled the void for the trendy fix-it-all. Lackluster hair? Grab the coconut oil. Legs are feeling a bit dry? Coconut oil will solve what ails ya. And tonight, ladies and gents, coconut is the main event of the cupcake world.

It goes beyond the toasted flakes, whose texture I’ve never been a fan of. These cupcakes have coconut flakes, coconut milk, coconut oil, AND coconut flour. It’s a great reminder, especially with such a decadent food, that there are small adjustments you can make which will render your cupcakes a slightly more healthy snack.

Since coconut has a light and creamy taste, I didn’t think that a regular vanilla cupcake base would do. I decided to work with angel food cake instead. SO glad I did. After all, there’s so much air in angel food cake, that there can’t possibly be any room for calories. Between the healthy coconut substitutions, the cupcake air and the bubbles in my bubbly… might just fly away after eating a few of these.

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Recipe:

Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 10 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup water (warmed)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 16 oz confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes for garnish

Preheat oven to 350, and line cupcake tin. Combine egg whites, water and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl. Beat on high for two minutes. Sift in flour, sugar and salt. The batter will form medium size peaks. Spoon your cupcake mixture into the liners, making sure that you don’t overfill them (more than 2/3 full). Bake for 20 minutes. To cool, place the cupcake tin on its side. (Not as weird as it sounds, I promise).

Combine coconut milk, sugar and melted butter for the frosting. Whip until light and fluffy. Place coconut flakes into a separate bowl. Dip each cooled cupcake headfirst into the frosting and then into the coconut flakes. Voila!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

xo,
Jenna