Learn how to make the ultimate, best ever chocolate covered strawberries with these 12 tips and tricks! They look and taste like they came from a fancy upscale chocolate shop—but for a fraction of the price! And you just need 2 ingredients!
Last month, my mom, my brother, and I met up with my aunt and two cousins in Anaheim for the weekend. As our first mini-reunion in ten years with all six of us present, we planned an incredibly fun and jam-packed three days split between Disneyland and California Adventure.
In between dashing from ride to ride and while standing in lines waiting for our turn, I learned that my two cousins love desserts just as much as I do. Nearly every time we stopped for a snack, a meal, or souvenir shopping, my youngest cousin and I scoured the sweet treats options. She made an unofficial mission out of finding every Disney-themed macaron and caramel apple, with which I excitedly helped.
It’s somewhat rare to find anyone who wants to seek out fun, over-the-top treats as much as I do!
We found all different colors and flavors of macarons between the two theme parks and Downtown Disney… But the cutest ones were the bright green alien-themed macarons from Toy Story at the pizza restaurant outside of Space Mountain and ones shaped in the classic Mickey Mouse silhouette on Main Street!
However, we spotted many more varieties of caramel apples, ranging from the classic Mickey Mouse (dipped in caramel, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and rolled in bright red sparkle sugar to make his shorts), steamboat Mickey (dipped in caramel and chocolate, then topped with a steamboat hat made from a jumbo marshmallow and white chocolate), Pooh Bear’s honey pot (dipped in both caramel and milk chocolate with “hunny” scripted across it), and even Bing Bong from “Inside Out” (dipped in caramel, pink-dyed white chocolate, dark chocolate, and finished with his purple top hat and polka dot bow tie). We even watched a few ladies making the two Mickey Mouse varieties at one of the sweets shops!
While browsing a dessert place in California Adventure, my cousin spotted oversized chocolate covered strawberries, which stood out after seeing all of the caramel apples. When we walked closer to the display case, we nearly gasped…
A single chocolate dipped strawberry cost $14, and it wasn’t even Disney themed! Just plain dark chocolate with a little white chocolate drizzled on top… And a few looked rather sloppy and haphazardly decorated.
Needless to say, we skipped those overpriced strawberries… But when I arrived back at home after our incredible Disneyland weekend, I made my own batch with this recipe for Absolutely Perfect Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries!
They look just as fancy as those ones in the sweets shop, but these are much cheaper—and they’re actually really easy to make! You just need 2 ingredients and no heavy cream, butter, oil, or added sugar. They’re just 29 calories too!
Learn how to make these peach crumble bars from scratch! They have a soft sugar cookie crust, sweet juicy peach filling, and a spiced oat streusel topping. Yet they’re just 79 calories with no eggs, dairy, refined flour or sugar!
Every summer throughout my high school and college years, my family celebrated peach season the same way. Although Mom rarely baked anything from scratch, she always pulled out the faded, yellowing index card with Grandma’s neat script outlining how to make her famous peach pie.
As soon as we saw the first really big, beautiful peaches arrive at the grocery store, we bought a huge bag and brought them home. After a few days of ripening, we pulled out mixing bowls and the glass pie plate, carefully following Grandma’s Instructions.
Her recipe began with an extremely buttery shortbread crust, one where you simply patted it across the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate, instead of chilling and rolling it out like traditional pie crust dough. With her shortbread crust, the pie took less time to prepare and the bottom crust never turned soggy!
Next, we turned to the filling. We peeled all of the peaches, cut them into slices, and tossed them in a big bowl along with cinnamon, almond extract (Grandma’s secret ingredient!), and flour to thicken the juices they released while baking.
With the peaches spread across the shortbread crust, we followed Grandma’s instructions for an easy streusel topping. She simply reserved some of the pie crust mixture, added extra sugar, and sprinkled those large buttery bits across the fruit filling.
Although relatively straightforward and simple to make, the hardest part of that peach pie recipe was always the same…
Waiting for it to cool! After it finished baking, we had to let the pie cool all the way to room temperature and then rest for another couple of hours to let the peach juices thicken so they wouldn’t squirt out all over the place when we cut slices for ourselves.
But as tortuous as that felt, Grandma’s peach pie was always worth the wait… And it rarely lasted more than 24 hours!
With summer peach season right around the corner, Grandma’s famous pie has been on my mind lately. Since I still haven’t perfected a healthier version (my jaw always drops at how much butter goes into her crust!), I decided to make the next best thing…
These Healthy Peach Crumble Bars! They have a lovely soft sugar cookie crust, sweet juicy peaches in the filling, and a spiced streusel topping—just like Grandma’s pie!
However, unlike her recipe, these cookie bars contain no dairy, refined flour or sugar (and no eggs too!), and they’re just 79 calories!
Learn how to make these healthy banana waffles from scratch! Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and full of yummy banana flavor! They’re so easy to make and perfect for meal prepping or quick weekday breakfasts. They also contain no dairy, refined flour or sugar and just 105 calories!
I’m partnering with Bob’s Red Mill® to bring you today’s recipe! I absolutely love all of their products, especially their flours, and use them every day. Bob’s Red Mill products are so perfect for baking!
A few weeks ago, one of my close friends from high school drove to Southern California for a vacation. As a teacher, her school actually scheduled two weeks for their spring break, so my friend planned on visiting her younger brother, a roommate from college, and me during her trip.
When she showed up at my house, we decided to drive to Coronado for the afternoon. Because of the scattered clouds, we packed both sunglasses and light jackets, and when we arrived at the beach, we spread out a couple of beach towels on the expansive sand.
As we watched the waves gently lap against the shore and a handful of kids excitedly running in and out of the freezing water, we talked… and talked… and talked. Over a year and a half had gone by since we last saw each other, so we had lots of catching up to do!
During part of our four hours at the beach, our conversation eventually wound up on the topic of food. Not too surprising, knowing me… And since my friend worked in a bakery for many years before earning her teaching credential, she knows and enjoys talking about sweets almost as much as I do!
As she explained some of her newfound sensitivities, she shared that she had started eating a special variety of waffles for breakfast almost every day. She often topped them with freshly sliced bananas, strawberries, and a dollop of almond butter before dashing off to teach her TK students.
For the next few days, I couldn’t shake that fruit and waffles idea out of my head, especially the part about bananas. So when I spotted two exceptionally ripe bananas hiding behind the bright yellow ones I recently bought on my counter, I knew exactly what to do…
I whipped up a batch of these Healthy Banana Waffles! They’re crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and the bright banana flavor shines through in every bite.
These healthy banana waffles also contain no refined flour or sugar, and they’re great for meal prepping or quick weekday breakfasts (just like the store-bought ones my friend was eating!). Yet these are just 105 calories!
Learn how to make these soft lemon sugar cookies from scratch! They’re easier to make than you’d expect (no mixer required!), and they’re perfectly sweet with lots of bright citrus flavor. Yet they contain no eggs, dairy, refined flour or sugar and just 37 calories!
The weekend after Easter, my mom, my brother, and I met up with my aunt and cousins for a weekend in Disneyland. We all stayed at the same place, and each morning during our trip, we rode the hotel’s shuttle to the theme park and arrived shortly before the gates opened.
As my cousins’ first time at Disneyland, we packed as many rides into each day as we possibly could. We stood in the short lines for our favorite ones first, snagged front-of-the-line tickets with Disney’s new MaxPass option in their smartphone app for the other popular rides with extremely long queues, hopped on a few less popular ones in between, and ended up walking over nine miles each day as a result.
When we walked to the shuttle pick-up on the night of our second full day, even after eating a large dinner salad in California Adventure, I still felt a little hungry. I thought about enjoying a few of the mini chocolate chip cookies from Trader Joe’s that Mom had left back in our hotel room while we waited for the driver to arrive, and I mentioned that I thought those treats might be egg-free.
My brother’s eyes immediately lit up. “Really??” he asked excitedly. “I’ll check when we get back!” He’s severely allergic to eggs, and it’s rare for him to find store-bought options made without them that he actually enjoys.
As soon as we opened our hotel room door, he dashed to the plastic tub of cookies… And discovered that I had misremembered. Those bite-sized chocolate chip cookies included eggs after all, and although he reassured me he’d be fine with the fruity candy he had packed as his sweet treats, I still felt horrible.
So when I see him next week while visiting my parents, I’m bringing a batch of these Healthy Lemon Sugar Cookies! Lemon sugar cookies are his all-time favorite cookie flavor, so I intentionally made these without eggs. (They also have no dairy, refined flour or sugar!)
Even so, these healthy lemon sugar cookies are perfectly sweet, soft and chewy, and bursting with bright sunshiny citrus flavor. They’re also easier to make than you’d expect (no mixer required!) and only 37 calories!
Learn how to make this fresh strawberry pound cake from scratch! It’s easy to make (no mixer required!) and full of sweet juicy berries. It has no refined flour or sugar, yet it’s still moist and tender with an indulgent buttery vanilla taste! Only 128 calories in each slice too!
I’m partnering with Red Blossom to bring you today’s recipe! I absolutely love their fresh berries, especially their strawberries. They’re so perfect for both snacking and baking!
The summer I turned ten, my family moved across town to an older yet larger home. With gigantic front and back yards, it sat on nearly a full acre of land, and the previous owner’s wife took advantage of all of the open space.
She planted a wide variety of flowers, bushes, and trees, filling up every corner of the yards with luscious greenery, including yellow roses, pink camellias, and exotic birds of paradise. However, she seemed to love fruit trees the most.
We found three lemon trees, orange and grapefruit trees, a fig tree, an avocado tree, green apple and peach trees, regular plum and wild cherry plum trees… With how much fruit they bore, we could barely keep up with picking all of them that summer!
But one afternoon while checking on the lemons, we discovered that the dainty little green plants covering part of the backyard and the front walkway has sprouted tiny red bits. When we bent down to inspect them up close…
We realized they were strawberries! Over the next few weeks, we watched as they turned a deep crimson color, and eventually, when they looked fully ripe, we picked a few.
They were still teensy, no bigger than my pinky nail, but since they looked completely mature and pure red, we washed them off in the kitchen sink and popped a few in our mouths. We briefly chewed, swallowed, and looked at each other.
They tasted like nothing… Nothing at all! Just watery little spheres with zero sweetness or berry flavor.
That evening, we did a little research on the computer, and we realized that our homegrown strawberries were actually mock strawberries… Which many people originally considered to be ornamental flowers. And just about everyone agreed that they were tasteless and not worth eating.
Since then, I’ve left the “true” strawberry growing to the professionals… And relied on the grocery stores to stock me with exceptionally plump and juicy berries!
And that’s exactly what I did to make this Healthy Strawberry Pound Cake! I mixed incredibly sweet fresh strawberries into the batter, ones grown just a little north of my California home, which resulted in a lovely guilt-free dessert perfect for spring and summer.
This healthy strawberry pound cake is really moist and tender, even though it contains no refined flour or sugar, and the bright berry flavors pair wonderfully with the cake’s indulgent buttery vanilla taste. Even better, each slice is just 128 calories!
Learn how to make these healthy homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch! They’re easier to make than you’d think. No mixer required! With their tender dough and sweet and gooey spiced filling, they taste so much better than the store-bought canned cinnamon rolls. Plus these have no eggs, refined flour or sugar and just 109 calories!
For our winter trip during my senior year of high school, our band director signed us up to participate in a marching band field show competition hosted by a smaller town in the Santa Barbara area. For the first night, he booked us rooms at a sprawling hotel right on the coast near one of his favorite golf courses.
Before we left, he mentioned how a little family-owned bakery just a mile down the road from our hotel sold the best cinnamon rolls he had ever tasted in his life. At over sixty years old, we completely trusted his judgment, so even though we returned to the hotel close to midnight after the competition, my friends and I still set our alarms to ring bright and early on Sunday morning.
After pulling on clothes and packing our suitcases, we headed down to the beach right outside the hotel’s back steps and walked a mile south, the warm sand squishing underneath our bare feet and between our toes. When we spotted the swing set and alley that led out to the beach next to the bakery, the two landmarks our band director told us to watch for, we turned left, slipped our sandals back on, and joined the queue of people snaking out through the front door and partway down the sidewalk.
Once we entered the shop, we scanned the rows and rows of cinnamon rolls displayed in the glass cases, watching as bakers pulled oversized pans of fresh ones out of the ovens in the back to replenish the dwindling supply. Those pastries sold faster than any breakfast treats I’ve ever seen!
The menu boasted their award-winning plain and cream cheese glazed cinnamon rolls as their most popular options, but they also offered ones topped with chocolate glaze, maple glaze, coffee glaze, blueberry glaze, and even orange-flavored cinnamon rolls with orange or cream cheese glaze. So many options!
I ended up selecting a plain one with no glaze (I’m actually not a big glaze or frosting fan!), and I held the white paper bag tightly in my hand as we dashed back up the beach to load our luggage onto the buses before driving back home. When I peered inside to take my first bite, I gasped…
That cinnamon roll was almost as big as my face!
And our band director was right… It was the best cinnamon roll I had ever eaten! (Well, at least up to that point in my life!)
Warm, gooey, almost caramel-like swirls of spiced filling surrounded by light, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth dough… Supremely tender, supremely buttery, supremely sweet, and supremely satisfying!
When I stopped by the grocery store last week, I spotted cans of refrigerated cinnamon roll dough as I browsed through the dairy aisles, and as I glanced over, I noticed one set of cans prominently displayed and labeled as orange-flavored cinnamon rolls with orange icing, just like the ones at that little family-owner shop many years before. I left the store-bought cans untouched, but I headed straight for the produce section…
And after picking out a few oranges, I baked my own homemade batch instead: these Healthy Orange Cinnamon Rolls! With their mesmerizing gooey cinnamon swirls and tender citrus-flavored dough, they taste just as delicious as the ones from that small coastal bakery.
Yet unlike those original ones, and also unlike the store-bought canned cinnamon roll dough, these healthy homemade orange cinnamon rolls contain no refined flour or sugar (and no eggs either!). Plus they’re just 109 calories!
Learn how to make this healthy oatmeal snack cake from scratch! It’s so easy and has just 97 calories! Even with no refined flour or sugar, it’s still really moist and fluffy! Packed with lots of hearty oats, fresh zucchini, sweet carrots, and yummy spice flavors!
When I started graduate school, the chemistry department required all first year grad students to attend a weekly seminar on Tuesday afternoons. The invited speakers ranged from professors at other universities throughout the US to high-ranking individuals at local pharmaceutical companies and everything in between, but each scientist presented their cutting-edge research and took questions at the end.
In order to make room for all of the first years, along with anyone else in the chemistry department who wanted to attend, the seminars were held in the second largest lecture hall in the building almost three stories tall with slanted stadium-style seating. Most speakers put together slide decks to present on the oversized screen that came down from the ceiling, but a few also drew out specific molecules and mechanism pathways on the green chalkboard behind it.
Partially as a bribe, and partially to ensure we all stayed awake, the chemistry department set out a snack tray in the small classroom across the hall just before the seminars started at 4 pm. They provided two huge urns of coffee and hot water for tea, plus an oversized tray of store-bought cookies.
Free caffeine and sugar—definitely two fail-proof ways to get us grad students to show up!
About ten minutes before the snack trays arrived, first year grad students began congregating in that small hallway, eagerly anticipating the sweet snack’s arrival. We all rushed through the door, more in a chaotic blob than a neat line, quickly grabbed a napkin, and picked out a couple of cookies from the oversized platter.
The sugary treats ranged from classic Oreos and Fig Newtons to chewy chocolate chip cookies and crunchy iced oatmeal cookies to knockoff Thin Mints and Samoas to strawberry cream wafers and Keebler chocolate-striped shortbread… And just about every other cookie that you can possibly find at grocery stores.
We weren’t picky about what sweets they provided us with… We just looked forward to the free snacks and how they got us through the seminars!
Looking back, those store-bought cookies weren’t the best or healthiest option for snacks… But this homemade Healthy Carrot Zucchini Oatmeal Snack Cake definitely would be!
It’s full of fresh zucchini and sweet carrots, along with lots of hearty oats and warm spices, and it keeps me feeling full and satisfied (without any danger of a sugar crash!) much longer than those grad school cookies ever did. Yet it still tastes like a special treat, just like those seminar snacks!
Even better, this healthy oatmeal snack cake contains no refined flour or sugar and just 97 calories in each slice!
Learn how to make these mini banana cupcakes from scratch! They’re supremely moist and tender with lots of sweet fruit flavor—but no eggs, refined flour or sugar. They’re just 41 calories, including the strawberry frosting! (It contains no butter, powdered sugar or food coloring too!)
Earlier this month, my parents drove down to Southern California to visit my grandma and me for a couple of days. On their first full day, Mom and I decided to drive to Coronado for a late lunch.
We ended up at the Panera I had dined at a few weeks earlier, and after ordering fresh seasonal salads (we’re obsessed with the strawberry poppy seed one!), we snagged a table on the back patio. A short while later, our meals arrived, and we ate them outside while soaking up the beautiful warm spring weather.
After finishing, we walked a few blocks down the road to the beach. Mom had planned ahead and brought a blanket, so we spread it on the sand and watched the waves gently roll in and out, plenty of young children running in and out of them and building castles in the wet sand with their plastic buckets.
Feeling refreshed, we drove back home, visited with Dad and Grandma a bit, and then headed back out again that evening for dinner. Grandma generously treated us to a meal at a cute French-themed restaurant, where we sat outside again and enjoyed lots of delicious and gourmet dishes.
We started with their famous roasted Brussels sprouts, sprinkled with shaved Parmesan and a balsamic reduction. As the main course, I decided on an arugula and pomegranate salad topped with grilled shrimp, and we also ordered two flatbreads for the table, one with pears and cambozola and the other with short ribs and a horseradish cream sauce.
I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of those two restaurant meals, but by the time my parents left town, I ended up with one forlorn and forgotten about, very ripe, almost black banana on my counter from eating out so much. After a minute of thought, I held off tossing it in the trash and decided to turn it into…
These Healthy Small Batch Mini Banana Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting! They’re supremely moist and tender with lots of naturally sweet banana flavor, and the creamy frosting is the perfect finishing touch.
What makes these cupcakes even better? They contain no eggs, refined flour or sugar! The frosting also has no butter, powdered sugar or food coloring. That gorgeous pink color is all from strawberries! And each little cupcake, including the frosting, is just 41 calories!
These healthy homemade granola bar recipes are all soft, chewy, and surprisingly easy to make! They contain no refined flour or sugar, yet they still taste so much better than store-bought ones! Perfect for meal prepping and quick grab-and-go breakfasts or snacks!
The winter of my freshman year of college, I ended up with two back-to-back classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. My chemistry course started at 7:30 am, and as soon as it finished, I walked across the road to my ancient cultures elective, which concluded at 10:30 am.
My friend in the dorm room next door had the same schedule, along with another guy from our floor (just with a different second class following chemistry!), so after waking up at 6:30 to get dressed and eat breakfast, I knocked on my friend’s door. The second guy joined us as we biked to campus through the thick-as-pea-soup fog, our faces and clothes slightly damp from all of the water droplets by the time we entered the vast lecture hall.
Once my two courses ended, I headed straight for the gym to use the elliptical machines for a cardio session. I typically wore my workout clothes to class, but I usually needed a little snack boost. Breakfast felt so long ago!
Most of the time, I packed a small store-bought granola bar in my backpack to quickly eat while walking to the gym. The brands and flavors I picked out varied, sometimes incorporating chocolate chips and other times dried berries with yogurt coatings, but they were always soft, chewy, and sweet.
Looking back, those store-bought granola bars probably weren’t the healthiest option… They were so full of sugar!
But any of these 10 Easy and Healthy Granola Bar Recipes would’ve been a much better choice! They’re still soft and chewy, just like the store-bought ones I loved during high school and college, with lots of different delicious flavors.
So what makes these homemade granola bar recipes healthy? They include no refined flour or sugar (aka they’re clean eating friendly)! All of these healthy homemade granola bar recipes are gluten-free. Some also contain no butter or oil, while others contain no eggs. Yet they’re all incredibly yummy and easy to make!
So here they are… The best healthy granola bar recipes! (At least in my book!)
Learn how to make these gourmet snickerdoodle cookie dough truffles from scratch! The cozy cinnamon in the cookie dough centers pairs surprisingly well with the rich dark chocolate coating, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt adds the perfect “fancy” finishing touch. They’re so much easier to make than you’d expect, and they’re just 29 calories with no heavy cream, eggs, oil, refined flour or sugar!
For a few years after college, I lived directly across from one of the major shopping centers in town. Safeway, Office Max, and Rite Aid sat on one side, and about a dozen smaller local shops surrounded those three mainstream businesses, including a Mexican restaurant, a Chinese place, and a dog grooming shop.
When I stopped by the pharmacy and grocery store shortly after Christmas one year, I realized that both places prominently displayed their leftover holiday décor and candy with sale signs boasting 50-75% off the original prices just inside the sliding glass entryway doors. While I assumed that Safeway would feature their products that way, I didn’t realize that Rite Aid would too… And the pharmacy actually offered better deals and a wider selection!
So when Valentine’s Day rolled around, I walked across the street the following afternoon to check out what the pharmacy had put on sale. Since the holiday fell midweek that year, very few people seemed to plan ahead and buy sweets for their significant others… My jaw nearly dropped open when I saw how much leftover candy was displayed in the front of the store!
I grabbed a few items, including a gigantic red heart-shaped box of dark chocolate truffles, which I opened as soon as I arrived back at home. Inside, I found a paper guide that revealed the flavor of each truffle, so I set aside the best flavors for last and started with the “so-so” ones, slowly savoring just one or two each day.
The box included most standard flavored fillings for truffles, like coconut, soft caramel, and peppermint. I also bit into ones with raspberry cream, milk chocolate nougat, and almond liquor fillings…
But my favorites were the ones with pure dark chocolate ganache or edible cookie dough hidden inside of that smooth dark chocolate coating! The former tasted so rich and decadent, while the latter felt sweet and whimsical and fun.
So way too many years later, I decided to recreate (and healthify!) one of the flavors inside of that box… These Healthy Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough Truffles!
They have soft edible eggless snickerdoodle cookie dough fillings, perfectly sweet and cinnamon spiced, with a robe of smooth and decadent dark chocolate on the outside and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt on top. Although hesitant before I bit into that first one many years ago, the cozy cinnamon + rich chocolate + bright pop of salt is such an incredible and irresistible combination!
Yet unlike those original truffles, these contain no heavy cream, oil, refined flour or sugar… And just 29 calories!