In the days leading up to any major holiday, my site always experiences a huge jump in traffic, and I’d guess the other big food blogs see a similar spike to certain posts. Right before a holiday, readers consistently search for the same types of party-friendly recipes: brownies, cookies, bars, cakes, and cheesecakes!!
If you need a recommendation of something to make for Memorial Day–or any party or gathering–below are my top 25 healthy party desserts that get the most views and searches from readers during holidays. Starting with the hands-down #1 most popular healthy party recipe: the Deep Dish Cookie Pie!
Note: Not all of the ingredient brands featured in the video are what I buy at home. If you ever want to know my favorite brand for a certain ingredient, please never hesitate to ask!
Flourless Almond Butter Brownies
Many of you have been asking to see more refined-sugar-free recipes on the blog, and so hopefully you’ll be happy to know that these almond butter brownies can be made without any refined sugar whatsoever.
I played around with my recipe for Brownie Batter Bars to make them refined-sugar-free and was so excited when they worked!!!
Are you sure this recipe will work?
It seems to have a lot of liquid ingredients…
Did you forget to list flour in the ingredients?
Are you sure it’s just fifteen minutes in the oven?
Then, after she actually made the brownies:
Katie, these are so good!!!!!!!!!!!
Rich, fudgy chocolate brownies that can be made in under 20 minutes and are secretly full of wholesome ingredients you can keep on hand for any time a chocolate craving hits.
1 cup softened almond butter OR allergy-friendly sub
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp pure maple syrup, honey, or agave
loosely packed 1/2 cup rolled oats (or 1/3 cup almond flour or flour of choice)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line an 8-inch pan with parchment paper or grease well, and set aside. Process the oats in a food processor or blender until very fine, then stir all ingredients together until smooth. (If you use a very dry almond butter, you may need to add 2 tbsp milk of choice for a thinner batter.) Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula or another sheet of parchment. It will look thin, but the batter will rise in the oven. If desired, press some chocolate chips into the top. Bake 15 minutes on the center rack – they should look underdone when you take them out. Let them sit at least a 1/2 hour if you want them extra gooey, or overnight for the perfect firm-yet-soft brownies. The flavor is sweeter and richer the next day if you can wait to try them!
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Combine all but the last three ingredients in a bowl, and stir to form a dough. If too wet to roll out, freeze just until firm enough to roll. I find it’s easiest to place dough in a large Ziploc, smush into one large ball, and roll out from inside the bag. Once rolled out, cut dough into circles (or other shapes!) with a cookie cutter or small jar lid. Bake 7 minutes. Let them cool completely, during which time they will firm up.
Freeze the cookies while you make the coating so the chocolate will adhere upon contact. For the coating, carefully melt the chocolate chips. I like to stir in the oil for a smoother sauce that makes the cookies easier to coat. Once melted stir in the extract. Dip cookies in chocolate, place on a parchment-lined plate, and freeze. I like to store these in the freezer to achieve the classic Thin Mint crispiness.
Beans in desserts might sound completely strange… but if you’ve ever tried the internet-famous Deep Dish Cookie Pie (and if you haven’t tried it, you need to!), then you know they can actually be shockingly delicious!
Um, or don’t leave out the chocolate chips and still serve them for dinner.
I don’t remember it being written anywhere that you can’t have chocolate for dinner.
Also, don’t look too closely at the picture above… The recipe makes 8-9 muffins, but I didn’t want the photo to show any empty spaces. So there might be a few cloned chocolate chips in there, courtesy of photoshop.
Someone should look into cloning chocolate chips in real life…
Baking Tips For Success
Fill the muffin liners about 2/3 of the way up. In general, it’s a good idea to not fill muffins or cupcakes all the way to the top, because the batter will rise as it bakes and sink in the middle if it gets too heavy.
If you wait a day, I’ve found that the muffin liners peel off easily. They’re also sweeter and better textured the next day, so make them a day in advance if you can! Leftovers can also be frozen.
Feel free to use your favorite nut butter or allergy-friendly sub (like sunflower butter or wow butter) in place of the almond butter. Regular butter, such as Melt (which is made from coconut), can also be used.
Make sure that you drain and rinse the beans really well, to ensure there will be no bean taste in the finished product. Cooked beans can be used instead of canned; measure 250g after cooking.
Be sure to read the tips for success above before beginning. Preheat oven to 350 F. Drain beans and rinse extremely well. Pat dry. This is important because it gets rid of any bean taste. Blend all ingredients until smooth in a blender or food processor. (If using a blender with no tamper, stop on occasion to stir with a spoon so mixture blends evenly.) Pour into 8-9 lined muffin cups – don’t overfill or they’ll rise and then sink. Bake 20 minutes. They will look underdone – let sit 20 additional minutes, during which time they firm up. (I like to bake only 16 minutes then fridge overnight, because I like the texture a little underdone even the next day.) These muffins are supposed to be fudgy, NOT fluffy and floury like traditional muffins. The texture is not for everyone, but if you like the texture of my black bean brownies then you will probably love these too! Refrigerate leftovers 3-4 days or freeze for later.
In fact, many big brands of cinnamon rolls are accidentally vegan already, including Annie’s, Immaculate Baking, and Trader Joes (both their regular and pumpkin rolls are actually vegan!).
Even Pillsbury and Kroger cinnamon rolls don’t contain eggs. The Pillsbury cinnamon rolls are not vegan because they do contain milk products, but their original crescent rolls are vegan and could easily be turned into cinnamon rolls. However, with both hydrogenated oils and food dyes, they’re not exactly healthy. So I still think it’s better to make your own from scratch. Homemade baked goods taste better anyway!
No Butter, No Eggs, No Corn Syrup
The recipe can also be made without vegan butter or coconut oil. Low carb recipes are great and all (seriously, this Keto Cheesecake is amazing), but there’s just something about a hot-from-the-oven soft and fluffy homemade cinnamon roll, covered in cream cheese frosting, in all its carb-filled glory.
Don’t worry, these are still much healthier than Cinnabon and yet completely satisfy even the most fervent cinnamon roll cravings!
There’s also no need for a stand mixer or bread machine. While most of my recipes do include gluten free options, I haven’t yet tried these rolls with a gluten free flour such as oat flour, almond flour, or gluten free all purpose (gluten feeds yeast). I would love to know if anyone experiments, and I’m also working on a cinnamon roll recipe without yeast, so hopefully that one will be ready to publish soon.
3 Tricks To Make The Best Cinnamon Rolls
Trick #1: Make the dough super thin
If you can get it just under 1/4-inch thick, that’s perfect. Thinner dough is better because it will rise and expand more than you might think in the oven, and starting with super thin dough ensures you’ll get sweet cinnamon-sugar filling in each and every bite.
Trick #2: Roll them up as tightly as you can
The reason for this is the same as above: it distributes the filling more evenly and prevents large expanses of plain dough in the finished product.
Trick #3: Cut slices before rolling = NO messy falling-out filling!
My mom taught me this trick, and it forever changed the way I make cinnamon rolls. Once all the filling is spread on the dough, cut slices before rolling up and you won’t have to worry about filling oozing out.
It seems like such an obvious trick that I’m surprised so many recipes—including my own in the past—still call for rolling the dough first and then cutting with a knife, thread, or floss. This way is so much easier!
2. Cream Cheese Frosting – either store-bought OR homemade, such as the vegan cream cheese frosting recipe from my Pumpkin Cupcakes post.
3. Easy Glaze: 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar or sugar-free powdered sugar, mixed with 2-4 tbsp milk of choice. Whisk ingredients together to form a glaze. Using a spoon, drizzle evenly over the rolls.
4. For a less-sweet version, feel free to leave them unfrosted, and the healthy cinnamon rolls will have a sweetness similar to a muffin, great for a healthy breakfast. The unfrosted version is especially good if you add raisins and walnuts to the filling.
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
If you want hot cinnamon rolls first thing in the morning, just assemble the day before, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, simply put the pan into the oven and bake 20 minutes. Frost as desired, and serve hot.
Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated 2-3 days or frozen to reheat in the microwave or oven any time you’re craving cinnamon rolls!
Notes: The recipe works with regular all purpose, spelt, or whole wheat pastry flour. I haven’t tried others, but be sure to report back if you experiment! For the first 2 tbsp sweetener, you can use sugar, pure maple syrup, agave, etc. – don’t use a sugar-free sub because it will not feed the yeast. The butter/oil version is much more decadent (and still just 230 calories each!), but applesauce or almond butter work if you prefer a healthier-tasting version that’s oil-free.
Warm milk in a bowl (not boiling – 110 F if you have a candy thermometer). Stir in the sweetener, sprinkle yeast on top, and set aside 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t bubble up, either your yeast is no good or milk was too hot or cold.) In a new bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tsp cinnamon. Stir oil/butter and vanilla into the milk mixture, then stir into the dry-ingredient bowl to form a dough. If needed (depending on flour used), add more flour until it’s dry enough to form into a ball. Place ball in a greased bowl, cover loosely, and set in a warm place for 1 hour, during which time it should double in size.
After the dough has risen, punch to deflate. Knead with your hands for 5 minutes, adding the 5 tbsp flour as you knead so the dough isn’t sticking to your hands. On a floured surface, roll dough into a very thin rectangle (just under 1/4in). Stir together all remaining ingredients, and spread over the dough. Cut long strips, then roll each up as tightly as possible. Place in a greased 9×13 pan. Loosely cover 30 minutes OR cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 325 F. Bake rolls 20 minutes. Serve hot – Frosting options are listed above in this post. If you make them, be sure to leave a review or rate the recipe. I hope you love them!
How to make oat milk, where to find it, and everything else you’ve ever wondered about the new plant based milk that’s currently taking the grocery aisle by storm!
Have You Tried Oat Milk Yet?
The popular beverage is suddenly all over the place – and for good reason!
With just two ingredients (seriously, just two!), it’s a soy free, dairy free, and low calorie plant-based milk that’s even creamier than almondmilk, with NO added thickeners or stabilizers required!
In other words, this might very well become your new favorite nondairy milk…
What does it taste like?
Oat milk has a smooth and creamy texture, and many people say its naturally sweet flavor makes it the most similar to dairy milk of all the plant based options on the market.
How do you use it?
Plain unsweetened oat milk is perfect for using in savory recipes—such as this Vegan Mac And Cheese—and it’s a fantastic option for thickening soups and stews. It’s also great for smoothies or protein shakes, pouring over cereal, adding to pancakes or baking cakes or muffins, or just drinking straight up.
Stirring in a little sunflower or coconut oil will increase the fat content and mimic the texture of heavy cream, making it perfect for coffee.
You can keep it unsweetened or add your favorite sweetener of choice, such as pure maple syrup, brown sugar, dates, stevia, etc. I’ve included an easy recipe for oat milk below, along with a few different flavors:
Oat Milk Flavors
Vanilla: Add 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste to the base recipe
Chocolate: Add 2 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Thin Mint: Use the add-ins for the chocolate flavor above, then also add 1/8 tsp pure peppermint extract, or more if desired
Pumpkin Spice: Add 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract. Or do the same thing with cinnamon or apple pie spice
Mocha: Use coffee instead of water in the base recipe. Add 2 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder and 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Strawberry Or Blueberry: Add 1 cup fresh or frozen berries and 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Or Nutella: Blend in 2 tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread or Healthy Nutella, or almond or peanut butter
What other flavors can you think of? Other flavors I’ve brainstormed but not yet tried include coconut, caramel, apple, chai, dutch cocoa, cherry, green tea, turmeric golden milk, maple, pineapple, mango… honestly the flavor possibilities are endless!
OAT MILK FAQ
What are the benefits of oat milk?
Quick & Easy To Make
Soy, Dairy, Nut, & Coconut Free
And it’s naturally thick with no emulsifiers or other additives – No xanthan gum, no guar gum, no carrageenan!
(Some commercial brands do include these ingredients, as well as added sugar; and not all brands source oats that are organic or certified glyphosate-free, so make your own if you want full control over what goes into your finished product.)
Where can you buy it?
Especially in the past year, oatmilk has become increasingly available at both health food stores and major chains such as Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, Walmart, Safeway, Giant, and Wegmans, as well as both large and small coffee shops around the US, Canada, and the world. Brands include Quaker Oat Beverage, Elmhurst, Califa Oat Barista Blend, Pacific, Planet Oat, Mooala, Oat Dream, Coffee mate oat milk creamer, Silk, and Oatly (the forerunner, which has been popular in Sweden for over two decades).
Starbucks now offers it it in select UK and US locations, and So Delicious has even come out with oatmilk ice cream and oatmilk yogurt!
Can you make homemade oat milk?
You can definitely make your own, and it only takes about 5 minutes!
Simply combine the ingredients in a blender, strain out the oats (or you actually don’t even have to), and enjoy! It’s cheaper than store-bought, and it’s also both cheaper and faster to make than almondmilk or soymilk. Homemade oat milk will last for up to 5 days stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. If it separates, simply shake the container.
What kind of oats do I use? Will steel cut work?
I like to use old fashioned rolled, quick oats, or Irish oats, because they don’t require an extra soaking step, but steel-cut are also fine. For steel-cut oats, start by soaking the raw oats in a bowl of water for at least 1 hour (or you can soak overnight). Rinse extremely well to remove any sliminess. Then proceed with the recipe the same way as if you were using rolled.
Is oat milk gluten free and vegan? Does it have any vitamins?
Oats are naturally gluten free, but it’s always a good idea to check before serving a recipe to someone with allergies or following a special diet. Many with Celiac disease avoid oats or only buy brands that say “certified gluten free” on the package to ensure no cross-contamination with wheat products.
Oat milk is low in fat and both lactose free and vegan. Most commercial brands are fortified so you’re getting vitamins and minerals as you would with cow’s milk. Silk’s Oat Yeah Oatmilk, for example, is an excellent source of bone building calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and riboflavin – it actually has more calcium than the same amount of skim milk.
Some brands also include added protein or fiber, but the homemade version doesn’t use filler ingredients like chicory root. So if you’re making your own and want the extra heart healthy fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins from the nutrition powerhouse oats, I’d recommend either going with the unstrained option or consuming the leftover oat pulp instead of discarding it. (See directly below.)
Can I use the leftover oat pulp?
Yes, you can use it to thicken smoothies or sauces, add a spoonful to muffin or bread batter for extra nutrition, stir in fruit and sweetener to eat on its own, or even use it as a nourishing face mask! It can also be frozen for another time.
Can you heat up oatmilk? Or cook the oats first?
Most commercial brands of oatmeal milk can be heated just like any other nondairy milk. The homemade version will thicken when heated, but I’ve found that adding the optional oil prevents it from thickening too much to use as a creamer or in an oat milk latte. Because it gets thicker when heated, this is a great vegan milk choice for sauces, gravies, or any recipe that you want to thicken naturally.
As for cooking the oats first, you absolutely can. Years ago, one of my favorite breakfasts was cooked oatmeal that I’d blend after cooking for added creaminess. You can still find these recipes on my site if you search (as well as a recipe for how to make oatmilk I originally posted back in 2010!) As another fun idea, you can also toast the oats before turning them into milk.
sweetener of choice, such as maple syrup, dates, stevia, sugar, raisins, banana, etc.
ingredients for flavor of choice if desired
*Use 2 1/2 to 4 cups water, depending on desired thickness. Be sure to scroll up in this post to find recipes for 10 different flavors. The recipe is similar to skim milk; if a richer milk or cream is desired, simply add 1-3 tbsp oil (such as sunflower or non-gmo canola) before blending.
To make the oat milk, simply combine all ingredients in a blender until completely smooth. You can stop here if you prefer some texture and extra thickness. Otherwise, pour mixture into a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, coffee filter, or nut bag set over a large bowl. Squeeze out the liquid. (Discard pulp or save for a different use.) If needed, strain a second time. Store leftover milk sealed in the fridge up to five days, or it can be frozen for a later date.