Healthier Fig and Nut Blondies

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Hello? Hello? Anyone out there?

I know, I know I have been officially MIA for several months.  Life, man.  But it is the new year and time for a new start-up back here on Cinnamon Freud! Happy New Year’s!

So it is the New Year, the time when lots of people make resolutions to lose weight.  I understand well- Christmas and the holidays is a time of decadence. I myself have packed on some extra “warmth layers” since being in a relationship…in spring of last year (no one warned me about that perk or couple-dom).  So, eating healthier can benefit us all.

These “blondies” are a healthier way to help satisfy your sweet tooth.  Believe it or not, my sweet tooth has mellow out (this must be what people mean by adulthood), so these are the perfect dessert or snack.

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HEALTHIER FIG AND NUT BLONDIES
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

INGREDIENTS

6 ounces vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12-15 dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup nuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 inch by 9 inch baking dish with foil and grease.

In a large bowl mix yogurt, oil, brown sugar, sugar, vanilla extract, and maple syrup together. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly stir the dry ingredients until wet, mixing until just combined. Fold in figs and nuts. Add milk as needed to thin the batter (I added about 2-4 tablespoons).

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely. Remove with foil and cut into bars.

No Bake Nutella Fruit & Nut Bars

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Are you ready for a snack, or are you ready for a snack?

Today we are going to get real serious about our snacking choices.  And by getting serious, I mean we are going to be using some Nutella. Nutella is amazing, and it is partially responsible for why I went all the way up to French IV in high school.  French culture day always meant eating lots of Nutella.  For educational purposes, of course.

I am currently working on my thesis (masters degree, I see you!), looking at issues with depression & alcohol, but what I would really like to write it on is the power of Nutella.  I am pretty sure just eating Nutella will be associated with lower levels of sadness.  New therapy treatment: instead of actually having to show up to work, I will just leave an open jar of Nutella and a spoon on my chair. Chocolate hazelnut therapy.

But if you really need some happiness, I suggest taking some Nutella and using it to make some no-bake bars.  I love lots and lots of stuff in my bars, so I packed these bars to the brim.  Filled with lots of chewy, sweet fruit and crunchy nuts, these bars make a great snack.  I used dried cherries and cashews, but the sky is the limit here.  I upped the Nutella & honey in this too, so they get nice a gooey. Mmmm.

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NO BAKE NUTELLA FRUIT AND NUT BARS
Adapted from White on Rice Couple

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup Nutella
Large pinch of salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cups dried fruit
1 1/2 cups nuts
1 cup chocolate chips, optional

DIRECTIONS

Line an 8 inch by 8 inch pan with foil and grease.

In a saucepan combine butter, honey, Nutella, salt, and brown sugar.  Whisk together over medium heat until combined.  Remove from heat.  Stir in dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips.  Spread mixture into pan.  Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Turkey, Pickle, and Almond Butter Sandwich

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First things first: No pregnancy here.  I feel like any strange food combo that includes pickles needs this disclaimer.  I still don’t know how to interact with children and lack any real motivation to learn how. But for those of you who are pregnant, forget pickles and ice cream.  Nut butter and pickles is where it is all at.

Yeah, you are probably making a face at this combination, but I promise the sweet and salty pickles works so well with the creamy peanut butter. Crunchy, creamy, and wonderful. I made my sandwich with my dad’s home-smoked turkey, and I loved the extra smokey flavor with the toppings.  G

You know what this sandwich also goes great with?  Watching The Newsroom.  Great transition, right? I should be a newscaster.

I love Aaron Sorkin’s writing and fast talking shows (Gilmore Girls, anyone?), but I only just started watching The Newsroom yet.  And a few days later, I have seen all episodes.  And am sad that my cable does not include HBO.  And I am 50% considering making a career change to be a journalist.  But that’ll change as soon as I watch a Law and Order episode on Netflix.  Then I will want to be a lawyer.

So to sum up this post: Make this sandwich and go watch The Newsroom.  I promise I do more than eat and watch TV.  Those are just my two most important activities.

Good night and good luck.

TURKEY, PICKLE, AND ALMOND BUTTER SANDWICH
Inspired by Joy the Baker

INGREDIENTS

Roast turkey
Almond butter (or any nut butter)
Pickles slices
Bread (sliced seed bread works best)

DIRECTIONS

Toast bread.  Spread almond butter on both sides.  Top with turkey and pickle slices.

Cranberry Cinnamon Sugar Candied Walnuts

7-3 Cranberry Cinnamon Sugar Walnuts

During the day, I am not much of a snacker.  I tend to stick to my main meals- although you will often find me with a Diet Coke by my side.  I know it’s not the best thing to pump into my body, but I am addicted. Just hook me up to a Diet Coke IV please.

However, the sun goes down (and I can’t drink Diet Coke anymore or else I will be awake all night), and my stomach starts to grumble.  I am a night snacker- I look forward to the unwinding from my day with a sweet snack, and I often will snack and scroll through food blogs.  I have my snack staples: ice cream sandwiches, leftover holiday candy (I just found a bag of Halloween M&Ms in my closet, hurrah for being a hoarder), and pudding.  But I was ready to mix it up.

So for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I decided to look for a new snack to try.  I was assigned Desiree’s blog, Steak n Potatoes Kinda Girl.  And upon hearing her website, I just wanted a big juicy steak.  But I had a mission: snacks.  I had a great time looking through her great array of recipes, and when I saw her recipe for Salted Candied Pecans I knew I had found a new great snack.

I made a few changes: walnuts instead of pecans because that is what I had in my pantry, and I added craisins because adding craisins is always a good decision.  And these nuts did not disappoint.  Crunchy nuts, chewy craisins, and sweetness. Perfect for late night web surfing and also a great road trip snack!

Also goes great with Diet Coke.  But what doesn’t?

CRANBERRY CINNAMON SUGAR CANDIED WALNUTS
Adapted from Steak n Potatoes Kinda Girl

INGREDIENTS

1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup craisins

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine walnuts, sugar, and water.  As the sugar begins to liquefy (3-5 minutes), begin stirring.  Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar thickens and crystalizes, about 4-7 minutes.

Decrease heat to medium low.  Continue to cook until sugar begins to harden and turn brown.  Stir in salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and craisins.  Stir to evenly coat nuts. Pour into single layer on a baking sheet and let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!