Avocado Cream Tarts with Nectarines and Strawberries

~ This recipe took home the grand prize in the California Avocado Commission’s Cutting Edge Culinary Recipe Contest on June 27, 2014!

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Happy Monday! Do you guys remember how last year at Fitbloggin’ I must have found a million four leaf clovers, because I cleaned out with a whole Amana Kitchen Set AND a Tiffany necklace?! What the what?! Well, this year I’m hoping luck is on my side again because the California Avocado Commission has put a call out for creative avocado recipes featuring mostly fruits and veggies for the California Avocado Cutting-Edge Culinary Recipe Contest. I’ve been obsessing thinking about what I was going to make for three weeks, flip-flopping back and forth between a sweet recipe or a more “classic” avocado recipe, in which avocado plays the mellow counterpart to some strong flavor like cilantro, onion, or prosciutto. In the end I decided to take a risk, and make a dessert — a deliciously decadent dessert that tastes like a million calories but is actually cutely packed into portion controlled tarts. I present to you, Avocado Cream Tarts — a rich shortbread shell filled with a light, fluffy avocado mascarpone cream, sweetened with a touch of wildflower honey and given a clean, crisp accent with freshly squeezed lemon juice. The mascarpone pairs beautifully with the buttery notes of avocado, all the better topped with juicy, ripe, diced nectarines and strawberries. This sweet treat has a simple, just-picked, summery taste, and I hope you like it as much as I do.

Double Chin Diary Avocado Mascarpone Recipe

Ingredients

1 Package of Shortbread Tartlet Shells or  Phyllo Shells (bake as instructed), or miniature graham cracker shells (Or even a thin, sweet cookie if you can’t find anything else. I used shortbread tartlet shells found near the ready made pie shells in the baking section.)

1.5 Cups Mascarpone Cheese

1 Medium Ripe California Avocado, Mashed

1 Teaspoon Honey

1/2 Teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Diced Nectarine (or more to taste)

Handful of strawberries (or more to taste)

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1) Mash the avocado with a fork until it’s guacamole consistency. A few small chunks are fine, but for the most part you want a smooth taste. Combine this with the mascarpone in a mixing bowl, and beat on medium for a minute until well mixed. If you don’t have a mixing bowl, you can use a whisk and your hands, but mix well. Slowly add in the honey and lemon juice. You can either increase or decrease the amounts of either of these, but I found 1 tsp honey to give just a very slight sweetness, and the lemon to add a very slight tartness to bring out the buttery avocado.

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2) Dice the nectarine and strawberries very finely. Either use a spoon or piping bag to carefully fill the shells. Don’t have a piping bag but want a pretty swirl? You can make an improv piping bag, using a ziploc bag filled with the cream, snipped in the corner with scissors.

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2) Dice your nectarines and strawberries and dab a few pieces of each on top. Pat yourself on the back, cuz you’re all done! See how easy that was?! There are a million different variations you could do on this; blueberries, banana, kiwi, apricots, mango… the possibilities are endless.

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When I was brainstorming this recipe, it was important to me that it be quick and no-bake. We’re up in the 90s here in Los Angeles, and turning on my oven for anything takes some doing. I also wanted to feature avocado in a non-traditional sense; as a dessert, with lots of complementary flavors, but still with the buttery, rich avocado taste being the main feature.

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Each avocado tarlet is about 130 calories, and well worth every bite. Avocados are packed with healthy fats, and are sodium and cholesterol free. It’s also sometimes called the Alligator Pear for its bumpy, green skin. For more fun avocado facts, visit this link from my friends at the California Avocado Commission.

What do you think about this dessert? Would you give an avocado dessert a try? What’s your favorite way to use avocados?

 

 

Low Carb Spaghetti Squash Carbonara by Jess of Nummy for my Tummy

Hi Friends! Last week, I participated in a Blog Swap, hosted by the lovely AJ of Confessions of a Fat Girl. The point of a blog swap is to put yourself in another blogger’s shoes, by writing a post you may not usually write. I was assigned red lips over at my friend Chris’ blog, What I Run Into, and I assigned my friend Jess, of Nummy for my Tummy, a low-carb recipe. How DELICIOUS does Spaghetti Squash Carbonara sound?! Jess has lost an incredible 175 pounds, and I can’t wait to dig through her site for more amazing recipes (For example? she just posted a sauerkraut recipe I have to try!). Follow Jess on Twitter here, Facebook here, and Instagram here. Enjoy!

The Double Chin Diary Divider

Hi everyone! I’m Jess aka Nummy For My Tummy; I share simple, quick and inexpensive gluten-free meals and sometimes “Paleo”.  Today I’m incredibly honored to guest post for Double Chin Diary.  As someone who has been struggling with weight loss my entire life, I quickly fell in love (yes love) with Alyssa and April’s blog.

I feel like I’ve been dieting my entire life. Even when I say I’m just eating “clean and healthy” the reality is that I’m on a yet another diet. Ugh!

Even after a 175lb+ weight loss I still have a few pounds left and find I’ll always be a work in progress. Feelin’ me? If you’re reading this I’m sure you do ;)

Now, let’s get down to business.

I’ve never been a traditional breakfast kinda gal.  Steak & eggs over sugary donuts any day.  Today I’m sharing one of my favorite breakfasts; Spaghetti Squash Carbonara. You read that right…BREAKFAST.  This is a low carb meal that has just enough protein and fat to carry me through my mornings. Of course this can be eaten any time of day, but when you start changing your idea of what breakfast should be, it will open up a world of options for you.

Spaghetti Squash

INGREDIENTS:

  • · 2 eggs
  • · 1/4 c coconut milk (or milk of choice)
  • · 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • · 1/2 tsp. black pepper, ground
  • · 4 c. spaghetti squash, cooked
  • · 3/4 c. sweet onion, diced
  • · 4 strips cooked bacon, diced
  • · 1/4 c. nutritional yeast (or grated parmesan)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, milk, pepper and garlic salt, set aside
  2. Heat a large skillet and add diced bacon, cooking until almost crisp
  3. Add onion to the bacon and stir until onion is translucent
  4. Spoon mixture into a bowl and set aside, leaving grease
  5. Using the same large skillet, over medium-high heat, add spaghetti squash until heated and coated with the bacon grease
  6. Turn heat off  and slowly add the egg mixture to the squash, constantly tossing
  7. Add the bacon and onion mixture to the coated squash
  8. Stir in nutritional yeast (or parmesan)
  9. MANJA!

NOTE: The “sauce” may start off a bit watery before you stir in the nutritional yeast or parmesan, but once added it will absorb and make it slightly thicker.  Nutritional Yeast can be found and your local Whole Foods or similar market in your area and is used as a gluten-free and vegan cheese alternative.

 

 

Summer Squash Soup Recipe

I realize I have yet to do a total recipe post like Alyssa does so I’m excited to share with you all a recipe I made after coming across an abundance of yellow squash from a client’s garden.

I imagine that some people may also have an abundance of vegetables in their gardens or know someone else who does – and one of my favorite things to do with excess vegetables is to make soup.  Soup can be really easy to make and also can be relatively low calorie and low fat if you do everything yourself (like no store-bought stock).  As you will see, there isn’t much to this recipe but you can easily add other produce like potatoes, celery, leeks, etc.

* You will need a decent blender or food processor for this

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Ingredients

Two yellow squashes – roughly 10 cups chopped

Six carrots

One large yellow onion

2 apples   (I used Fuji)

2 tbsp butter

2 tsp marjoram

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Enough water to boil all the vegetables in but around 4 cups to use within the blender

 

Instructions

1)  Fill up a giant pot with water halfway and set it on medium to boil.

2) While you’re patiently NOT watching the pot to boil, diligently scrub at your produce to remove any previous signs of it coming from dirt.  Or you can be lazy like me, peel your carrots first, and then wash them.  However, don’t be so lazy that you don’t peel your carrots at all though and once you have gained the energy to peel your carrots, be sure you don’t shove them down your garbage disposal or husband/father/landlord/plumber may lecture you!  You don’t have to peel your squash but I do recommend suffering through the tears and peeling that onion.

2)  Carefully chop all vegetables, avoiding contact between the knife and finger tips.  Do not keep chopping if you bleed.  No one likes bloody soup except people that sparkle in the daylight.

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Colors of summer!

3) Perhaps by now your water has begun to boil, if not, just wait a little longer.  Once the water is boiling, carefully find a way to get all your chopped *vegetables* (NOT your apples) into the water without it splashing up and burning yourself.  Once you figured that out, make a quick note in your mind to let April know how to do that.

4) Let all your vegetables soften up for about 15 minutes in the water.  The carrots should be soft enough that you can easily smush into the side of your pot with your cooking spoon.

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The cooked veggies about to get tore up in a blender party!

5) Scoop out your vegetables into a big bowl, unless you happen to have a gigantic food processor or blender that can puree all the vegetables at once.  Be sure to take out about four cups of veggie water to use in the blender.

6) Once you have successfully made another dish to wash,  take out some of your vegetables from the bowl and place them into your blender until it halfway full, add a chopped raw apple, and around a cup of your veggie water.  Puree, mix, chop, blend, do whatever it takes to combine all those ingredients together into a smooth soup.  Once it’s all mixed, pour it back into the pot you began cooking with.

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All mixed up.

7) Repeat #6 until all your vegetables, apple, and four cups of vegetable broth are mixed.  Once all back into the original pot, add spices and butter, and simmer on low for half an hour or until you can not wait any longer.   Serve and enjoy!

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Summer Squash Soup

The soup technically can be eaten immediately after blending but the longer you wait, the more the flavors can combine.  I also found that the soup definitely gains flavor after a day in the fridge.  It’s not the most flavorful soup as it is since it’s so basic, but if you prefer the taste of light cooking and whole foods, you should like this.  You can also cut back on some of the sugar and carbs by using less onions or no apples – however I think both of those make for delicious flavor!

Nutrition information from www.myfitnesspal.com

Nutrition information from www.myfitnesspal.com

Let me know if you end up making it!

Love,

AprilSignatur

 

Low-Calorie Cocoa Peanut Butter Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

cocoa peanut butter pb2 chia seed pudding weight loss recipe

The worst part about being on a low-calorie diet is that the fatty foods of your past taunt you, like the king-sized pack of Peanut Butter Cups sitting in my freezer. I didn’t buy them for me. I bought them for my husband; but late at night, the siren song of waxy, chocolate covered peanut butter gently sings “Alllyssssssssa. Alysssssssssaaaaa. Come eat me!” One of the only ways I’m able to stick to a low -calorie diet is to get creative, and for me, that means finding substitutions for fatty foes of my past. There’s a lot of buzz about Chia seeds right now. They’re rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and provide fiber (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber) as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, niacin, and zinc. When Chia Seeds are added to water, they form a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar — super helpful for those with insulin resistance like myself.

Because of Chia’s natural gelling proprties, when I saw Chia Pudding on Pinterest, I had to try it. However, that recipe was for vanilla, and while there are many things in life that are fantastically vanilla, I wanted to kick it up a notch. Enter my good, low-calorie friend, PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter, and cocoa powder. I also had some vanilla beans buried in the pantry, so I decided to put those to good use. The best part about this recipe is that it is EASY – like super easy. You cannot screw this up. I promise. Even if you don’t know the recipe for ice cubes, you’ll master this pudding. It’s also low-calorie and low fat, coming in at 80 calories for about a 1/2 cup serving. That doesn’t seem big, but the Chia seeds are so filling, you’ll definitely get a bang for your buck.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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For the Milk, you can use either 2% cows milk, like I did, or almond milk, soy milk, rice milk. (Please note substitutions will slightly impact the calories.)

For the sweetener, feel free to use your choice of either stevia, sugar, honey or splenda. I chose Sun Crystals which are a blend of Stevia and Cane Sugar. You can also adjust the amount of sweetener. I prefer only semi sweet desserts, so I used a modest amount of stevia.

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See? I told you it was easy. The nutrition stats are included below, but remember, if you make substitutions like using honey or soy milk, the calorie count, sugar and fat will change. This was a yummy treat that definitely tastes a lot more decadent than it really is! Enjoy!

PB Chia Pudding

Getting in a pickle: quick pickled beets!

I've been caught red handed! With pickled beets!

I’ve been caught red handed!

Beets were one of those foods growing up that I avoided like the plague. Their bloody red color threw me off, reminding me of scary horror movies and for some reason, like something only old people would eat. It wasn’t until very, very recently that I ventured into trying beets and I was surprised to find I didn’t just LIKE them, I LOVED them. They’re a great sweet, earthy touch to a salad, and I actually had them on their own as a snack a few days ago. My new love of beets is another thing living in the grand old state of California has given me; I had never tried an artichoke until I was 21 years old and my then boyfriend (now husband)’s mother made one for me. I had also never tried mango, another passionate produce love affair of mine.

beets on a cutting board

Because I love flexing my green thumb, I decided to grow beets this year and ended up with a surplus of candy cane beets and the most GIGANTIC red beets I have ever seen in my life. This thing could easily take out a window or a small child. I mean, HOLY BEETS! How did it get that big? Beets me! (Oh, I’ve been dying to say that one!) Anyhoo, while beets are amazing on their own, if you want to amp up the flavor, it’s super easy, cheap and you probably have all the ingredients on hand. If you feel like being ever lazier and avoiding the parboil/peel/boil process of cooking the beets, buy them pre-steamed and packaged at Trader Joes and follow only the pickling instructions.

All you need is..
- one jar or resealable tupperware container
- a bunch of beets,
- 1 cup vinegar (I recommend red wine or white)
- 1 tbsp sugar
-1 tbsp diced/minced or crushed garlic (less if you’re a vampire or still have tastebuds)
- some fresh cracked pepper and some sea salt.

1) The first thing you’re going to do is boil the beets, skin and all, for about 2 minutes. Don’t stress about it, this isn’t the important part. You just want to get them nice and hot so the skin peels off easily.
2) Once they’ve boiled for a few minutes, take them out of the pot and LET THEM COOL. Do not touch them now because I promise, your hands will burn like marshmallows and you’ll never read my blog again because I’ll be known as the girl that burned you with beets. I speak from experience.
3) Did you wait a few minutes to cool? Good. Now start peeling. This process is messy. If you’re using red beets, you’re going to have murder hands. Just accept it now.
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4) Once everything is peeled, hack ‘em into whatever size slice you like. These were bigger than I usually like but again, that beet was the size of an asteroid. What was I supposed to do?
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5) Throw ‘em back into a pot of boiling water. Cook them until fork tender. A little bit al dente is fine if you like more crunch. Do not overcook or you’ll have some nasty looking beets to eat (they turn gray). I’d say these, though quite thick, needed 5-7 minutes.
6) Drain the beets.
7) Put all of the ingredients except the beets into the jar or container. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Crack in pepper to taste and a few shakes of salt.
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8) Start layering in the beet slices. Seal the jar and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes they’re ready to eat! If you want them to be really strong, let marinate over night. These beets will last in your fridge for up to one week and are amazing with some vine ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzerella over a bed of greens.
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This recipe is awesome because it’s super customizable. Maybe you could try using a sweet onion instead of garlic, or adding some rosemary sprigs. I bet rice wine vinegar would make an interesting base, or imagine it with mint leaves. Beets really are in their prime in salads. Try beets with a crumble of feta, or chopped Cobb style. Did you know people ever use beet syrup as a natural sweetener? Beets have one of the highest sugar contents of any vegetable, but their glycemic index is lower so they don’t cause the same insulin spikes in the body as table sugar. So, what do you think? Are you a ‘beet’nik like I am or are you anti-beets?

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Superbowl Slimdown: Guacahummus – The best hybrid guacamole/hummus you’ve ever had!

A lighter alternative to Guacamole - Guacahummus!, hummus, low fat hummus, low calorie dip

A lighter alternative to Guacamole – Guacahummus!

It’s February and that means its time for FOOTBALL! However, do your usual Super Bowl snacks leave you feeling bloated and puffy, like YOU’RE stuffed into a pigskin? Have no fear – Guacahummus is here! This lightened-up dip saves you over 75 calories on average from fatty restaurant style guacamole. The best part is because of the tangy cilantro and creamy avocado, you really won’t even notice this fiber-rich fakeout isn’t the real stuff. Give it a try and let me know what you think! Note: You MUST use a food processor or blender for this recipe. One 2.5 tablespoon serving is approximately 88 calories, but you could certainly have much less and still be satisfied – I’m just all about volume! :)

Ingredients for Guacahummus - water and garbanzo bean liquid not shown!

Ingredients for Guacahummus – water and garbanzo bean liquid not shown!

1 can of Garbanzo Beans, drained, with 2 TBSP liquid reserved
1 small, ripe avocado
2 peeled garlic cloves
2 TBSP lemon juice
3 TBSP water
1 big bunch of washed and dried cilantro, stems mostly chopped off
Salt and Pepper to taste (Add Cayenne if you’re feeling spunky!)

1) Drain the garbanzo beans and add to your food processor. Blend until chunky and beans look like “crumbs”. Add the reserved two tablespoons of garbanzo bean liquid from the can.

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Put your garbanzo beans or “chick peas” into your food processor with the garlic.

2) Add in the two tablespoons of lemon juice and garlic cloves. Blend until smooth.

Add your lemon juice to the food processor.

Add your lemon juice to the food processor.

3) Add the avocado, removing the pit and blending until smooth. Add the 3 TBSP water and blend again until smooth and thin.

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Add your avocado to the mixture.

4) Cram the cilantro in the food processor. For easier blending, split it in half and do it in batches. Blend, blend, blend until it takes on a beautiful guacamole color and there are no big lumps.

Put your cilantro into the food processor.

Put your cilantro into the food processor.

5) Season to taste with pepper, salt and garlic powder. If you like your guacahummus thinner, add a little bit of water until it reaches the desired consistency.

6) Serve with carrot chips, tortilla chips, cucumber slices or anything your low-fat heart desires! Enjoy!

Serve with tortilla chips or fresh vegetables of your choice - and enjoy!

Serve with tortilla chips or fresh vegetables of your choice – and enjoy!