Study Snacks: Chocolate PB Banana Bites

Sugar has always been my vice. For me, losing weight depended primarily on cutting back on chocolate, candy, and other sweets. Trying to quit sugar usually results in cravings for sweets. To combat the cravings, I started buying packages of frozen Dole chocolate dipped bananas. Each package contains 3 slices of frozen banana covered in dark chocolate.

Eventually, I realized it was a little silly that I was paying for chocolate dipped bananas that I could make myself. You may not require a recipe, but I figured I could at least share the directions from this recipe just in case. (There’s no shame. We’ve all been there.)

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1/4 cup peanut or nut butter (I used organic no-stir PB)
  • 10 oz dark chocolate – I used dark chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

1. Slice the bananas and arrange half of the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

I had to slice off some of the brown parts, but you should only need a butter knife to slice them.

 

2. Spread the peanut/nut butter on one half of the slices.

3. Top with the other half of banana slices and freeze for at least one hour.

 

4. Meanwhile, put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then repeat in 15 second intervals until the chocolate is melted.

5. Remove bites from the freezer and dip them into melted chocolate. Work quickly so they don’t thaw and get mushy. Using two forks, dip a bite in chocolate and roll it so it’s covered in chocolate. Let the excess drip off before putting it back on the baking sheet.

6. Freeze at least 3 hours. Store in the freezer.

 

Final Thoughts: I’m not 100% that these are particularly healthy, but they are tasty! I would avoid snacking on too many at once, but 2 or 3 can really help with cravings. I turn to them instead of candy or ice cream in the office or at home.

Black Bean Brownies (GF)

A lot of people try gluten-free or vegan treats as a healthier alternative to desserts and sweet treats. I don’t know if it makes them healthier, but it’s good practice for friends and family with food allergies or dietary restrictions. I made brownies for a coworker, so another coworker requested an additional pan of black bean brownies. The idea is that the beans make the ingredients “stick” instead of flour. It’s a gluten-free option that keeps the brownies moist.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish.

2. Place all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor (or blender) and process until smooth. Scrape the batter into the baking dish and level the top.

 

 

Honestly there’s nothing easier than shoving everything into a food processor. If you’d like, taste it and see if it needs a bit more cocoa.

3. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the batter. Bake for 25-27 min.

4. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

If you don’t let them sit, they’ll be too soft to cut and just fall apart.

Final Thoughts: This was a 50-50 dessert. It’s easier to make than regular brownies, plus it’s gluten-free with extra protein! While I enjoyed the dense texture, it’s obvious it’s made with beans. About half of the people who tried mine really disliked them. The other half went crazy for them! To each their own, I guess. Which one do you guys like better – regular or black bean brownies?

Yakisoba-Style Spaghetti Squash

Yakisoba is a Japanese fried noodle dish that I became familiar with at a neighborhood restaurant called Tomo’s (meaning Friend’s). In high school, I ate there as often as I could. Most often I would order chicken or beef yakisoba. I was practically obsessed with the crunchy vegetables with the soy sauce and sesame-flavored noodles.

Recently I stumbled upon a recipe for a lower carb version of yakisoba. I haven’t had much luck with spaghetti squash in the past. I find it difficult to cut apart and cumbersome to cook. I was shocked when the recipe said I could microwave it! What a difference from baking for 40 minutes. This quick and tasty low carb meal is perfect for your dinner on Meatless Mondays.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. spaghetti squash
  •  1 small onion, chopped
  • shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 stalks scallions, chopped
  • 1+ cup cloeslaw mix of carrots and cabbage
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp dried red chile
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

IMG_1773

Instructions:

1) Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place it cut side down on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 10 minutes.

 

IMG_1775

Prior to cooking, remember to scoop out the seeds with a spoon!

2) Mix the sugar and soy sauce together while the squash cooks.

2) Remove from the microwave. If soft enough, drag a fork across the inside to make “spaghetti.” If too hard, continue microwaving.

IMG_1781

3) In a large pan over high heat, add sesame oil. Cook the onions until soft (2-3 minutes). Add the coleslaw mix and red chile. Cook for another 2 minutes.

IMG_1776

4) Add the mushrooms. Cook for another 2 minutes.

I cooked mine separately because Boyfriend doesn’t care for mushrooms. This was not a good idea. The mushroom flavor was so strong without being properly cooked and mixed in the stir-fry.

5) Add the spaghetti squash, scallions, and sauce. Mix well. Cook for 2 minutes, then serve.

IMG_1782

 

Final Thoughts: Spaghetti squash has always been a tedious vegetable to cook. Had I known I could microwave it, I would have tried more recipes! This was so delicious and filling even without meat or tofu. Boyfriend and his brother gobbled it up without even realizing it was vegetarian. The coleslaw mix was another surprise. I’ll definitely be using it in future stir-fry recipes. Boyfriend suggests I try meat for the next time I make it. Once spaghetti squash is actually in season, expect me to be cooking more of this!

 

IMG_1794