Thursday, January 22, 2009

Crunchy and Chewy Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

I stumbled across the full-sugar version of this recipe a while before the holidays when I was drooling over cookies recipes in anticipation of my own seasonal baking. I fell in love with the idea and flavor profile behind the original recipe which came from Oatmeal CookieBlog, and decided it could easily be modified to make it a bit healthier for me and my friends and family. Everyone loved them, so I made multiple batches and sent some home with my roommate for her family and brought bags of them to Temple University for co-workers and people I enjoy on a daily basis. The conclusion was that these are great cookies and no one guessed they were Splenda-fied!

holiday baking (7)

1 stick butter
1/2 cup Splenda Brown sugar Blend for Baking
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
1 cup finely ground graham crackers
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
turbinado sugar for rolling (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to 350ยบ.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and Splenda Brown Sugar Blend for Baking. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla extract and orange zest. (If you don't have a fresh orange laying around, you can use a splash of Orange Juice or forgoe it altogether, though the hint of orange is a nice compliment to the cranberries, it's not necessary.) Mix the liquid ingredients into the butter/Splenda mix and stir well.

In another large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients, except the turnbinado sugar, and use a wire whisk to combine them. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until well combined. The dough will be a little sticky.

Use a cookie scoop of a couple of spoons to form the dough into evenly sized balls. At this point the cookies are ready to bake, or to make them extra-special, give them a quick roll in turbinado sugar and then place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for at least 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

The turbinado sugar gives the cookies an extra crunch on the outside that mimics the crunch of the almonds on the chewy interior. I highly recommend rolling the cookies in sugar before baking if you can allow the extra calories and carbs in your diet. Without the sugar, the cookies are still delicious and chewy, but lack the textural contrast that makes these cookies so glorious.

Makes 48 Cookies

Each cookie contains 4 grams of fat, 93 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein. If you choose to skip the roll in turbinado sugar you can reduce the calories per cookie to 83 and the carbohydrates to 10.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2009 Broad Street Run Training

My friend Lindsey is an awesome personal trainer here in Philadelphia and she is offering to train you to get in shape for the 2009 Broad Street Run! Check out her website OutFit for more details on her traning programs. Below is the information on her distance run training services. I'm going to do it! Please join me!

2009 Broad Street Run Training Team

OutFit, Fitness Outside the Gym
Lindsey Schweiger, B.S. Exercise Science

The Broad Street Run is the largest 10-mile race in the United States, last year attracting over 19,000 runners. As a four-time finisher of this race and proud Philadelphian, I am inviting you to experience the sense of personal accomplishment and warmth of community that comes with preparing for and participating in this powerful event.

In training for an endurance race like the Broad Street Run, each of us faces a challenge. For some, ten miles may feel like an insurmountable distance to traverse. For others, it may feel realistic but confused with logistics: When should I run? How fast? What do I wear? What should I eat before? And still others may feel that they are practiced runners who want to improve their performance.

No matter what your hurdle in 2009 - train under the guidance of a running coach with the OutFit team! Feel the camaraderie and support of peers as we meet once each week for a "long run" group training. Explore your individual commitment further, following your personalized running program, with runs of shorter duration in between our meetings.

Make a commitment to improving your health and fitness level. Make new friends! Have an experience - though the training process can be tough, it is fun, enlightening, and rewarding.

And the race itself is AWESOME. Sign up!

2009 Broad Street Run Training Package:
Cost: $125
Ten team trainings - see schedule below

Personalized running program - one of the following: beginner (for those who expect to walk/jog), intermediate (for those who would like to jog the duration), advanced (for those with a time-oriented goal)

Team T-shirt for race day

Weekly tips via email covering footwear, nutrition, injury prevention, etc.

All team meetings will be at Lloyd Hall, at the end of Boathouse Row:

Sunday 2/22 - 9 am
Sunday 3/1 - 9 am
Thursday 3/5 - 6 pm
Sunday 3/15 - 3 pm
Sunday 3/22 - 9 am
Sunday 3/29 - 9 am
Thursday 4/2 - 6 pm
Sunday 4/12 - 9 am
Sunday 4/19 - 9am
Sunday 4/26 - 9am
Sunday 5/3 - 8:30 am - BROAD STREET RUN

For more information about Lindsey and OutFit, click here. To sign up or inquire about this program, email

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Black Bean Brownies

When I stumbled across a recipe for Amazing Black Bean Brownies on 101 Cookbooks, I knew one day I would give it a try simply for the weird factor. At that point in my life I didn't know I had diabetes and didn't even notice the inclusion of agave nectar as the sweetener. I've been playing around with agave in baking and have had good results. It's 25% sweeter than sugar, so if you're swapping one cup of sugar in a recipe, use 3/4 of a cup of agave. The glycemic index of agave nectar is 27, extremely low compared to sugar or honey. On top of that, these brownies contain no flour and instead are loaded with black beans. That means high fiber!

These brownies are dark and rich with chocolate flavor, but they're purposely not too sweet. I like my chocolate dark and with little added sugar or milk to dilute the flavor of chocolate, therefore its very important to use the best chocolate you can find when you make this recipe. I made enough changes to the recipe that I'm publishing my version here, but if you're interested in more baking with agave nectar, check out the recipe's origin in Baking with Agave Nectar by Ania Catalano.

Black Bean Brownies 022

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used Ghirardelli Unsweetened baking bar, chopped)
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups canned black beans (look for a variety that has no salt added)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
¼ cup instant espresso powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup light agave nectar

In a large microwave safe bowl melt the butter and chocolate at 30 second intervals until completely smooth.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, vanilla extract, almond extract, and about 1/2 cup of the melted chocolate mixture. Process until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. The mixture will be thick.

Add the remaining walnuts, the espresso powder, and salt to the remaining melted chocolate and mix well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minutes. Add the agave nectar and mix to combine.

Add the bean mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Reserve 1/2 cup of the egg mixture and pour the remainder in the bean/chocolate mixture and mix well. Spread this batter into a 9 X 13 brownie pan that you've lined with parchment or non-stick aluminum foil. Beat the remaining 1/2 cup of egg mixture on high until thick and creamy, about 1 minute. Drizzle the thickened egg mixture over the top of the brownies and drag a toothpick or cake tester (I used a chopstick) through the batter and egg mix to create a marbled effect. (As you can see from the above photo, I probably didn't swirl my egg mixture in enough, but the end result wasn't totally unattractive, and the recipe still worked) Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Mine were done right at 30 minutes. When done the brownies will be slightly browned on top, but will still feel soft. In fact, these brownies will still feel soft until refrigerated for a few hours, and if you can wait overnight. Don't attempt to slice until refrigerated for at least 3 hours.

Makes 24 brownies.

Each brownie contains 14 grams of fat, 196 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein.