Sunday, October 27, 2013

Healthy Desserts

Hey, everyone! My name is Annika and I am one of the new team members. I'm going to be sharing my recipe for Banana-Apple Muffins with Peanut Butter Glaze today. I came up with this recipe because I was thinking of ways to take fat and sugar out of muffins. I wanted to use fruit and honey to get all-natural sugars in the muffins. I also decided to take out butter and replace it with bananas and applesauce to get a nice texture. However, muffins all need some fat to make them not stick to the wrapper, so I used low-fat milk and I also added some coconut oil to add a little fat. Coconut oil is a very healthy alternative to butter or other fats because it is a liquid at a much lower temperature than your body's temperature, so it doesn't build up as a solid and clog your arteries. Instead, it digests easily and is converted to energy! Finally, I knew it wouldn't be healthy to make a buttercream, meringue or mascarpone frosting, so I decided to make a naturally sweet glaze using peanut butter and honey. These muffins are great and healthy because there is very little fat and only natural sugars. Even though they're muffins, you can enjoy them as a dessert as well as a breakfast item. Enjoy this recipe!

Some of the healthy ingredients in my muffins

Banana-Apple Muffins with Peanut Butter Glaze


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
1/2 tsp. baking soda 
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup coconut oil 
1 ripe banana 
4 Tbsp. honey 
2 Tbsp. Applesauce 
2 large eggs, separated 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2/3 cup low fat milk 

1 apple, peeled 
1 tsp. sugar 
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
1 tsp. honey 

2 Tbsp. honey 
2 Tbsp. butter, softened 
1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter 



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F for a convection oven). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Put coconut oil in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for 15-25 seconds, or until it becomes a liquid. S

2. Sift the flour in a medium bowl. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. Mush banana with a fork in large bowl. Add honey, coconut oil and applesauce. Beat with an electric beater until combined. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, into banana mixture. Then, beat in vanilla. Beating on low speed, add half of the flour mixture, then all of the milk, then the remaining flour mixture until just combined.

4. Beat egg whites in a small bowl until stiff peaks form and fold it into the flour mixture.

5. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Take out of oven and Cool completely before frosting and filling. 
6. Start making the filling by mincing the apples. Toss with cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Stir in honey. Using a knife or thin spoon, cut a hole in the center of the cupcakes about 3/4 deep. Fill with apple filling.
7. To make the glaze, combine honey and butter. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. 
Using a knife spread a thin layer over cupcakes. Enjoy!
Madeline also requested that I could attach her recipe for her Pomegranate-Banana Parfait, since it is another healthy dessert, so here it is!

Pomegranate-Banana Parfait
Serves 2

1 small banana, sliced
The seeds of 1/2 of a small pomegranate
1 1/4 cups nonfat Greek yogurt*
1 tbsp honey (optional)
1/2 cup raw oats
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews, roughly chopped

For chocolate mousse:
1 ripe banana (not too ripe, or it will affect the taste)
1 small avocado
1+ tbsp (to taste) maple syrup/other preferred natural sweetener (i.e. agave, honey, stevia)
2 tbsp cocoa powder

*You may use any non-dairy yogurt as well, such as soy yogurt or coconut milk yogurt.

1. If you prefer to lightly sweeten your yogurt, mix the yogurt with the honey. If not, proceed to step #2.

2. Combine all of the chocolate mousse ingredients in a blender or Vita-Mix. Blend on a medium-high speed until a thick, creamy consistency is reached and there are no chunks of banana or avocado.

3. Using two medium-sized glasses to prepare your parfaits. Spoon 1/4 of the yogurt into the bottom of one cup and spread the layer evenly. Then, sprinkle two tablespoons of raw oats and two tablespoons of cashews on top. Then, spoon 1/4 of the chocolate mousse over the first layer of yogurt and spread the mousse into an even layer. Top with banana slices and 1/4 of the pomegranate seeds. Make another layer of yogurt and another layer of chocolate mousse, topping each layer with the same ingredients as before. The second layer of chocolate mousse is the last layer, so when you top it with bananas and pomegranate seeds, make sure it has a nice presentation.

4. Repeat step #3 with in the other glass. Serve and enjoy!
Thanks for reading this blog post! I hope you enjoy my recipe (and Madeline's parfait recipe). I had a lot of fun making it and I learned a lot, so it would mean a lot to me if you tried it out. Please follow Teens Can Cook, Too at all of our social media handles, follow this blog (click the button on the right-hand side) and share your recreations of these recipes with us by using #teenscancooktoo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

Instagram: (@teenscancooktoo)

Thanks, and stay healthy!
- Annika

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nutrition through SMOOTHIES!

Hey everyone! This is Isaac, another one of the team members. I'm so excited to share my smoothie recipes and philosophy about smoothies with you today.

Smoothies are the perfect way of delivering nutritionally full meals quickly and deliciously. The diversity of recipes that fall under the category of “smoothies” are what make them so accessible, and successful. The ability to blend favorite flavors with new ones, with the goal of finding nutritional nirvana, makes the smoothie category even more special.
In a failed attempt to avoid gross generalizations, I would say that most people have heard of a smoothie. It's simple, right? Take some food, blend it, drink it. More newly, the green smoothie/green revolution has taken over, which is the idea of supplementing your food and lifestyle in a more conscious way overall. With the development of a more eco-friendly, health aware population, many people have also heard of green smoothies. Contrary to popular belief, the green smoothie is not the pinnacle of nutrition; the super smoothie trumps all. The idea of the super smoothie is the creation of modern raw vegan food gurus, a diet essentially surrounding capturing the most available nutrition in food by not cooking food over a certain temperature, and not eating animal products. There is more depth to the lifestyle that is raw veganism; the important part is the reintroduction of foods and herbs surrounding the culture. The following recipe for a chocolate-peanut butter-banana smoothie takes you through the 3 smoothie levels, so that anyone can enjoy this filling, yet balanced recipe.

Level 1:
1 Banana (If desired: freeze for thickness)
1 ½ Cups Milk
2 Cups Ice
¾ Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
¾ Cup Chocolate Chips

Level 2:
1 Banana (If desired: freeze for thickness)
1 ½ Cup Milk
1 1/2 Cups Ice
¾ Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
¾ Cup Chocolate Syrup or Chips
¼ Cup water blended with 1 small-medium bunch kale
½ Avocado
*Blend kale and water first
**Spinach can be swapped with kale based on preference/availability

Level 3:
1 ½ Banana
2 Cups Ice (Use coconut water for additional electrolytes)
1 Cup Milk
½ Cup Cashews
1/2 Cup Cacao Nibs
1+ Tbsp. Agave Nectar
½-1 Tbsp. Coconut oil
¾ Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1 Small-Medium Avocado
¼ water blended with 1 small-medium bunch kale
*Blend cashews/cacao nibs first with water/kale
The recipes above are written based on personal experience and can/should be changed to personal preference. A few general rules: ice to thicken, “Milk” can be soy, almond, coconut, or yogurt, and all sweeteners are optional (keep in mind they are put in for a reason, in this case to counteract the rich yet slightly bitter/overpowering taste of chocolate from cacao nibs). Also, if you’re struggling to put some vegetables into your smoothie, start with an avocado, which has no affect on taste, and gives incredible creaminess and natural fats. Then, move to spinach, and finally to kale. The reason behind kale is that it is generally considered the king of nutrition for vegetables for numerous reasons: high in fiber, packed with vitamins, etc. Finally, the herbal side of super smoothies, while incredible nutritional, is complicated and expensive, and for the sake of the brevity of the blog post was excluded, but with a proper guide can be broken down and accessible, perhaps in a future book…. ;)

Thanks for reading my first blog post! I can't wait to share more smoothie recipes with you all in the future. Please follow Teens Can Cook, Too at all of our social media handles (and follow this blog as well, of course). Feel free to ask me any questions you have about the smoothies as well via email (, comments on this post, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Instagram: (@teenscancooktoo)

Stay healthy!
- Isaac

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Butternut Squash Mac n' Cheese

Hey, everybody! This is Madeline again. This week, I have a delicious recipe for you and some thoughts I've had this past week about becoming a vegetarian.

A few days ago, I had a (mostly one-sided) conversation with my best friend about becoming a vegetarian. Contrary to what everyone seems to think, I am not a vegetarian, but I've been considering omitting meat from my diet. I only eat meat about three times a week, and whenever I cook, I tend to cook vegetarian meals because that's what I'm generally in the mood for. Also, Health Starts Here taught me that meat isn't entirely necessary for our diets. Yes, it's a source of protein, but I can also get protein from beans or tofu. However, I have a really busy schedule, so I don't have time to cook myself a healthy meal with vegetarian proteins every night. Also, I'm only 15, so I need lots of protein while I'm still young and growing. All teenagers do.

So what should I do? I'm pretty sure that I'm going to keep eating meat while I'm living with my parents. It's much easier for them when we have such busy schedules, and eating small quantities of meat won't hurt me. Also, my little brother is an incredibly picky eater, so we have to make him a separate dinner. I don't think my parents would be very happy if they had to make separate dinners for themselves, my little brother AND me. Even though I'm not a vegetarian (yet), I completely support people who are vegetarian or vegan, and I highly encourage that everyone should only eat meat 3 - 4 times a week. It's better for you and it's better for the environment!

Onto the recipe! I made this on Friday night after I saw a Butternut Squash Mac n' Cheese recipe on Twitter. I quickly glanced at it and saw that the sauce was just mashed butternut squash, and I knew that I could make the sauce way better. In my version, I pureed the squash with some almond milk and spices to make it smooth, rich and creamy. This recipe is vegetarian, but if you're vegan, you could easily omit the small amount of Asiago cheese that I sprinkled on top before baking. I posted a picture of it on Instagram, and many of you commented on the photo asking for the recipe, so here it is!

Butternut Squash Mac n' Cheese
Serves 7 - 8

16 oz whole-wheat penne pasta
1 tsp virgin coconut oil
1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
¼ cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
½ cup smoked paprika
½ cup freshly grated Asiago cheese (optional)

For sauce:
½ of a medium-sized butternut squash
1¼ - 1½ cups (depending on desired consistency) unsweetened, plain almond milk
1 garlic clove, peeled
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried thyme
1½ tbsp nutritional yeast 
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the butternut squash open lengthwise. Remove the seeds from one half of the butternut squash. Scoop the coconut oil from the jar and soften it by rubbing it between your hands. Rub the coconut oil over the surface of the butternut squash half and season with salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, turning the pan after 30 minutes. The squash will be done once the surface is golden-brown and the insides are soft throughout. Remove from heat and cool until the squash is safe to handle.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cauliflower florets. Cook according to the directions on the package. Once the cooking time is up, drain the contents of the pot into a colander and briefly rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Pour the drained pasta and cauliflower back into the pot.

3. When the squash is cool, loosen its flesh from its walls with a fork. Then, transfer that to a food processor or Vita-Mix. Make sure you get as much out of the squash as you possibly can. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and blend on a medium-high speed. You can add more almond milk if needed. The end result should be a very smooth squash puree with a fairly thick consistency.

4. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the sauce into the pot with the pasta and cauliflower. Mix thoroughly and adjust seasonings if needed. Add the contents to the pot to a 9x13 glass dish and spread it out evenly. Top with Asiago cheese, panko crumbs and smoked paprika (in that order). Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm. Enjoy!

I hope you all enjoyed today's blog post! Please try this recipe - it's perfect for fall and I know you're going to love it. Please share your recreations with me on Instagram or Twitter using #teenscancooktoo, or email then to me at Don't forget to follow this blog and follow Teens Can Cook, Too at all of the social media handles below:


Instagram: (@teenscancooktoo)

Thank you all so much, and stay healthy!
- Madeline