Salty Chocolate Caramel Turtle Cookies

It has been so hot and sticky lately that I have avoided turning on the oven as much as possible. But I keep thinking about this recipe I saw a few weeks ago and decided these cookies would probably be worth sweating like a pig in the kitchen. When I told my husband I was going to bake these last night, he asked, “Are there pretzels in them?” I guess because usually when you think of salt and chocolate together, you think of chocolate covered pretzels, right? Well, although these cookies do not have pretzels in them, they do have a cup of butter and tons of chocolate and caramel, so you really can’t go wrong. I plan to send some of the goods to friends and family so the two of us do not eat all 24 cookies. Elastic waistbands are not far off in my future…

Salty Chocolate Caramel Turtle Cookies

Makes approximately 24 cookies

Adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups raw cane sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon course sea salt

1 cup chocolate chips (I added a little extra for good luck)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

10 caramels, chopped into fours

Mix the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix until combined. Fold in chopped pecans, caramel pieces and chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough for at least 4 hours. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 350, roll the dough into balls and place on ungreased baking sheet. (Note: refrigerating is the most important part, because the caramel pieces will sink to the bottom and stick to the cookie sheet when they are baking.)

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely, and drizzle with caramel sauce if desired.

I think I know what I’ll be eating for breakfast in the morning…

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The Dangers of Food Dyes

I wanted to share this article published on Wednesday by CBS about the dangers of food dyes. I was allergic to anything artificial growing up so fortunately I stayed away from them as much as possible. But I will admit that I do indulge in the occasional bag of Twizzlers and Sour Patch Kid candies (they are one of my many sugar weaknesses), but I never can indulge in them without wondering what all the chemicals in these sweet treats are doing to my body.

Besides causing allergic reactions, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a prominent watchdog group, claims that the three most widely used food dyes – Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 – are contaminated with cancer-causing substances. Another dye, Red 3, has also been identified as a carcinogen by the FDA but is still in commercial use.  Studies have also shown that dyes can cause hyperactivity in children.

Food dyes are mostly used to make food look more appealing and are mostly found on the nutrition labels of products pitched to children like brightly colored cereals, candy, ice cream, popsicles, sodas and fruit drinks.

According to the CSPI, manufacturers dump about 15 million pounds of eight synthetic dyes into our foods each year. Yuck! I am pretty sure you wouldn’t pour food coloring onto your food before eating it, so why should we let someone else do it? People need to go back to the basics when it comes to food and their health. Stay away from products loaded with chemicals and artificial ingredients that were created in a lab. Hopefully you will be more cautious and look more closely at nutrition labels after reading this article.

Click here to read some insightful commentary on the use of food dyes by Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.

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Filed under Breakfast, Snacks, Wellness

A Muffin A Day…

I got this tasty muffin recipe from my friend Sarah’s blog. Unlike the muffins you buy at your local bakery or food store, these are made with whole grains and rolled oats instead of enriched, bleached flour (read: highly processed) adding tons of fiber and “good” carbs that will help keep you full for longer. By using unsweetened applesauce in place of most of the oil, you also cut out all the unhealthy saturated fats typically found in store bought muffins. I usually freeze half of the muffins in a big freezer bag and warm them up in the microwave for a few seconds. Enjoy!

Healthy, Hearty Muffin Recipe

– 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
– 1 1/4 cups whole oats
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 1/2 tsp. baking soda
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
– 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
– 1 cup low-fat buttermilk (can be substituted with 1 cup of plain low-fat yogurt or milk)
– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 tbsp canola oil

Preheat oven to 400. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray or use liners. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Stir in the milk (or yogurt), applesauce and oil. Mix in 1/2 cup of nuts, chocolate chips, and/or dried fruit if desired. Bake for 17-20 minutes and let cool. Makes approximately 16 muffins.

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No more nuts!

So it’s 93 degrees in Connecticut today and I have turned my living room into a cave by closing all the blinds and placing a fan about 6 inches from my face and am trying not to move… The next place we live in has one requirement: A/C!

Okay, so back to the topic of the day: Migraines. Today I met with a neurologist about my migraines that have become more and more frequent and seem to be set off by a combination of exercise and the summer heat. During my visit, I was asked about my diet, caffeine intake and daily water consumption as well as the severity of my migraines. For those of you who suffer from migraines, you are well aware of how painful they are and how disruptive they can be to your daily life. When I say that the migraines I get feel like someone is sticking an ice pick in my eye, I am not exaggerating.

I had never been to this particular neurologist before, but she came highly recommended by the New England Center for Headache. After she examined me and deemed me as “healthy” I was sent home with a headache journal to keep track of my migraines, a list of vitamins to add to my daily regime (Magnesium, Vitamin B2, and Butterbur) and was informed to not eat any hard cheeses or nuts… The pessimist in me had a really hard time not seeing the glass half empty in this dire situation and all I could think about were all the foods I could no longer enjoy if I want to get rid of my migraines:

– No more salted cashews

– No more chunky peanut butter sandwiches

– No more “muscle shakes” (frozen fruit, peanut butter, bananas, milk, yogurt, protein powder)

– No more Manchego cheese on my salads

– No more melted swiss and ham sandwiches

– No more almond milk

Okay, I will stop now before I run to the store and go on a nut and cheese binge. I know things could be worse; she could have told me no more chocolate and coffee, the two things I could not live in this world without.

This article from Woman’s Day magazine lists 9 foods that are supposed to actually help ease or prevent migraines. I am trying to incorporate more of these foods into my diet and will keep you posted on the results.

Do you suffer from migraines? What do you do to stop the pain or prevent them? Have you had to make any special diet changes in order to live migraine free?

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Chocolate Raspberry Yogurt Delight

This afternoon I was totally craving a chocolate hot fudge sundae, but instead whipped up this delicious, healthy snack using plain Greek yogurt, half a packet of Three Sisters Dark Chocolate instant oatmeal, and a handful of fresh, organic raspberries. One word: Heaven.

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Filed under Breakfast, Snacks