Recipes

Samoa Cookie Bars

samoa bars | confections of a dietitian

There are a few short weeks in February when Colin and I debate about how many boxes of Girl Scout cookies is a reasonable amount to buy. Sadly, no matter how many boxes that ends up being, they never seem to last long enough. Hence why I’m writing about Girl Scout cookies in July. But, we don’t just argue about how many boxes to buy. We also disagree on which cookie is the best. My favorite has always been Thin Mints. Colin’s favorite are Samoas (or, where I sold Girl Scout cookies, Caramel Delights). I have not always liked Samoas. Actually, I remember avoiding them when I was younger. Most of that dislike came from my dislike of coconut. Now, coconut is a flavor that I am slowly starting to love.  I don’t know if it’s because we live on a tropical island, or if it’s becoming more of a food trend, but it seems like everything comes in coconut flavor here. And, slowly but surely, I find myself ordering the coconut option more and more.

samoa bars | confections of a dietitian

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Key Lime Bars

key lime bars | confections of a dietitian

I love seeing the words “bring a dish to share” on an event invite. Some people may dread them, but I think it’s a perfect excuse to try out a new recipe or bake something I’ve been craving without having to eat all of it. I usually just want one serving, (two if I’m being honest) but not 30. Luckily, I seem to get invited to potluck style events all of the time, so I have a lot of opportunities to try new things. This week, thanks to my daily email from Tasting Table, I had been craving key lime pie. And, as luck would have it, I needed to bring something for a party at Colin’s office.

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Spaghetti Squash Tacos

Spaghetti squash has already had its’ moment, or maybe moments, of food star-dom. It first became popular when everyone gave up carbs as a substitute for pasta and made a comeback when those same people swore off gluten a few years later. But I’ve never liked it as an alternative to pasta. To me, spaghetti squash is sweet, like most other squash, and smothering it in tomato sauce doesn’t make it shine. I’d always been on the lookout for alternative ways to utilize spaghetti squash when I came across this recipe a few years ago in my (then) new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Intrigued by the flavor combination, I figured I should give it a try.

spaghetti squash tacos | confections of a dietitian

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Chipotle Chicken Filled Sweet Potatoes

chipotle chicken filled sweet potatoes | confections of a dietitian

Sweet potatoes are one my favorite foods. Besides being an excellent source of Vitamin A and many other nutrients, I love the sweetness they lend to so many dishes. I learned, while researching for our move to Okinawa, that sweet potatoes are a large part of the Okinawan diet. If this wasn’t exciting enough, I realized that Okinawa doesn’t have the orange variety we are used to in the U.S., but the purple variety, called beni-imo.

For those of you who don’t know me, I should explain. Purple is my favorite color. By favorite color, I mean, my life is purple. My phone, laptop, suitcase, even baking supplies in my kitchen–it’s all purple. So the fact that Okinawa has purple sweet potatoes, well, I knew my life was never going to be the same. Okinawans love, and have created, beni-imo everything. Ice cream, Kit-Kats, pastries–if something can be flavored, it will be beni-imo and it will be purple. It’s delicious and amazing and makes me love Okinawa that much more.

purple sweet potato | confections of a dietitian

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Cherry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

cherry oatmeal cookie | confections of a dietitan

One of the things that has been hardest for me to adjust to while living in Okinawa is the inability to get ingredients when I need them. In America, I could go to a grocery store and expect to find everything on my list. If the store didn’t have what I needed, although an inconvenience, I could stop at a different store to get it. In Okinawa, this is not always the case. The on-base grocery store, called a commissary, carries most American products that you could want, but not many specialty ingredients. Sometimes, I can find the items at off-base grocery stores, but due to cultural differences with food and the fact that we are 5,000 miles away from America, this is not always the case. The commissary, and every on-base store, commonly runs out of things (the running joke is that they will never have something in stock when you actually need it) so it is common to see Facebook posts asking where people have found certain ingredients off-base.

cherry oatmeal cookie | confections of a dietitan

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Nutella Cheesecake Bars

Nutella Cheesecake Bars | confections of a dietitian

A few months ago, a coworker of mine requested I bring something with Nutella for a small get together we were having. Not wanting to pass up an excuse to bake, I willingly obliged. There was only one problem. I didn’t have many quick recipes in my repertoire that included this delicious hazelnut, chocolate spread.

It didn’t take much brainstorming for me to become fixated on the idea of Nutella cheesecake bars. I love changing anything from its primary form into a bar, like cookies, pies or cakes, because it’s so much faster. Usually, one type of batter gets dumped into a pan, bakes all at once in the oven and, once it’s done, you can cut it into as many individual servings as you need. It’s the perfect option for baking in a pinch, or in my case, after a long day at work.

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Soft Egg and Spinach Toast

soft egg toast | confections of a dietitian

Crunchy bread, a runny egg, creamy spinach, spicy mustard, all sprinkled with feta cheese…need I say more? What about how this takes 10 minutes to make from start to finish so you can eat it for lunch, or breakfast, or even dinner? I know, it’s genius and it’s absolutely delicious. It has become my go-to lunch on the days I don’t work, so much so that I make sure to always have these ingredients on hand.

soft egg toast | confections of a dietitian

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Raspberry Macaroons

raspberry macaroons | confections of a dietitian

I tend to pick new recipes in two ways. 1. I think of something I want to make and research what seems like a thousand different recipes until I find the perfect one 2. I read a recipe, become fixated on it and have to make it immediately. This recipe falls into the latter category. I was doing my usual browsing and brainstorming for our Easter menu when I came across these raspberry coconut macaroons in my weekly email from Smitten Kitchen. I had already decided on a dessert, but I couldn’t get these out of my head. They seemed so quintessentially Easter to me. Little egg-like mounds of white coconut swirled with pinkish purple raspberries. Not to mention that raspberries are my favorite berry. I had to have them.

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Pumpkin Granola Bars

pumpkin granola bars | confections of a dietitian

The summer after my sister and I graduated from college, we found ourselves with a half-used bag of brown rice flour. Not wanting the flour to go to waste, or miss out on an opportunity to bake, we searched for a new recipe. We decided upon pumpkin granola bars, which I quickly fell in love with, or rather, with the concept of. I loved making my own granola bars. I could control the ingredients, they were always in the freezer for a mid-morning snack or quick breakfast at work and it gave me an excuse to bake every couple of weeks. I’m also in love with anything pumpkin, so pumpkin granola bars should have been perfect for me, but they weren’t. The recipe was loaded with sugar and oil and not much else. The bars were dry, but when I tried to add more moisture, they got gooey. My sister and I both tried to tweak the recipe, but after a few years and more changes than I can count, I still wasn’t satisfied.

One day, I had the brilliant idea to check Pinterest (duh!). At first, I just wanted to find similar recipes so I could continue to try to fix the one I was using. But then, I stumbled upon this particular recipe. It seemed too good to be true. Ground flaxseed. Almond milk. Chocolate chips! Pumpkin!!

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