Feed Your Sweet Tooth

Confession. I LOVE sweets. Especially chocolate. It's a daily battle how much I do or do not enjoy each and every day. Perhaps you are familiar with this battle.

I've never really been on a "diet" but realized how much sugar I actually ate when I went on "No Sweets Diet" for 21 days a few months ago.

I made up my own rules and eliminated all forms of refined sugar, candy, ice cream and baked sweets. My only sweet exceptions were real maple syrup and honey. I lost 3 pounds in 3 weeks which means I was eating waaay too much, too often.

It would be a bald face lie to imply that we shudder, run and hide when sugar is present.

Every Sunday we have dinner with my family. Guess what our family is in charge of bringing?


Surprised aren't you?

We LOVE our sweets and inhale faster than a Kirby vacuum slurping up the deeply hidden crud in carpet.

However, I do try to make things healthier with whole grain flours, less sugar and healthy fats and oils.

This recipe today is a blend of demonic white flour and whole grain. It even uses a jar of carmel. We love it and succumb to the 80/20 approach.

Make amazing choices 80% of the time, 20% of the time it's ok to enjoy something otherwise forbidden. It's keeping the 20% of the time under control that is challenging.

Today's treat is Gooey Oatmeal Carmelitas.

OATMEAL. CARMEL. CHOCOLATE and half the pan with NUTS for those of us that love them.

I've been madly in love with these treats since I received one at a Christmas Cookie Exchange years ago.

Sink your teeth into these babies you won't be disappointed.


Gooey Oatmeal Carmelitas


  • 1 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1 (12.5 or 14 oz jar) caramel ice cream topping
  • 3 Tbsp flour (white or whole wheat)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan. Combine all crust ingredients and mix until crumbly ( I use my stand mixer). Reserve 2 cups of crust mixture. Press remaining crust ingredients into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Combine caramel topping and flour in a small bowl, mix well. Remove crust from the oven, sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle with caramel (keep it at least 1/2 inch from the edge for easier pan cleanup). Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture on top. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool one hour or until completely cooled. Cut bars when completely set.

Sink your teeth into awesome choices 80% of the time - fruits, veggies, whole grains and tons of water. The other 20%, enjoy the treats you eat. I'm old enough now to know what is worth the calories and not worth the calories. Enjoy what is worth the calories.

Happy Baking!


Too many Tomatoes? Solve Your Problem with This Recipe!

Tomato lover? Here's how you can tell.

  • You own and use wall-o-waters.
  • You may or may not admit to saving egg shells to add to your soil where you plant tomatoes.
  • You grow heirlooms for flavor adventure but know they take forever to ripen so you have hybrids too.
  • You have tried several types of cages and almost drooled when they finally started selling heavier gage wire cages in cute colors.
  • You don't buy store tomatoes.
  • You would rather NOT have a tomato than eat one that tastes like cardboard.

If you are overflowing with tomatoes it's time to FREEZE them. Yes, you know I am obsessed with freezing everything but this one is a no brainer. Quarter, (freeze on a silpat), pile and cram until your gallon bag is bulging. We use these frozen tomatoes several ways:

  • in our fruit and veggie smoothies
  • in tomato bisque soup
  • in tortilla soup (will post in a few weeks)

Today, I share with you my Tomato Bisque soup that can be made with fresh or frozen tomatoes.

Oh and if you were wondering if it were any good ... ALL 5 of us eat it. That says A LOT!

AND I served it to friends at a Christmas party last year.


Tomato Bisque

  • 8-10 cups quartered tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 Tbsp whole wheat flour (white whole wheat or regular whole wheat)
  • 5 cups water
  • 5-8 Tbsp Bouillon ( I use the Organic Better than Bouillon Chicken Flavor)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp powdered thyme (or 2 fresh sprigs if you have it)

If using frozen tomatoes, set them out a few hours ahead of time. I just dump 1/2 a gallon sack into my 8 cup Pyrex mixing bowl. They need to be able to blend down and be smooth so you don't want them frozen solid. You can also thaw in the microwave and add some of the water (5 cups) it calls for toward the end of the recipe to thin them down so they can blend smoothly.

Blend 1/2 the tomatoes in your high powered blender until seeds are obliterated.

In a large saucepan or medium sized pot add butter and oil over medium heat. CAREFULLY add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent.

Add 6-8 Tbsp whole wheat flour to onion mixture to form a roux. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly, to cook the raw flavor out of the flour.

Add roux to blender with 1/2 the tomatoes you all ready blended smooth. Blend mixture until smooth. It will take a minute or so on high to get the texture smooth and lovely. Add mixture back to the pot. Blend remaining tomatoes until smooth and add to your pot. Add water ( I measure with the tomatoey blender to rinse out the goodness into my pot not the sink), boullion, bay leaves and thyme. Let it simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and fresh thyme (if you used it). ENJOY!!!!

Each packed 1 gallon bag makes 2 batches of soup.

We love tomato soup with grilled cheese. We discovered cutting the sandwich into soldiers (rectangles) made for a better dipping experience.

Freeze your tomatoes! Do it now and pack away as many as you can. 

Last year I froze about 15 gallons for our family. I only have 4 1/2 gallons as of today but give me a week or two and all I'll have my 15 gallon supply of tomatoes all nestled away in their icy tomb.

Stay tuned for a similar tomato based recipe for Tortilla Soup in a few weeks. Another awesome recipe to use up your tomatoes when the chill sets in!

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Happy Freezing!


Pumpkin Muffin Cooler Than Lunch Recess

It’s that time of year again. Besides being fall in just a few weeks, it’s when lunches we pack our kids COMPETE with recess. Only the easiest and most delicious things get eaten first while the rest is trashed or left to decompose in the lunch box.

Unless your school is smart enough to have recess first. Ours has lunch first - sigh. And I have a first grader and his first shot at all day school and lunch away from my visual supervision.

Time to pull out the big guns and compete in his lunchbox = awesome momma nutrition vs. the playground.

It is a slow process to ease things that are better for him into his lunch when his buddies have chips, fruit snacks, sugary pouch drinks and such.

Balance and patience is what it will take to get them to eat foods better for them when they are surrounded by lunch boxes filled with junk.

Let me be perfectly open about one thing. 2 of my kids get chocolate milk every day in their lunch boxes.

Gasp….shhh,  I don’t think chocolate milk is evil. This is why it goes in their lunch boxes:

  1. I know they will drink it
  2. calories – they needs them to be able to focus when it’s learning time. Hungry kids don’t learn well.
  3. decent amount of protein, vitamins and mineral – not straight juice with no protein to slow the insulin response
  4. I am not anti-dairy
  5. It’s delicious and convenient.  The end.

Chocolate milk confession aside, I’ve pulled out the big guns and am going muffin mode. They are the same shape as a cupcake so it has a coolness factor at the lunch table that makes it more desirable.

Muffins are a super amazing tricky way to sneak goodness and coolness into lunch without the kiddos realizing it.

The recipe today is for a whole grain pumpkin muffin. It’s sneaky awesome for a few reasons:

  1. It’s whole grain = AWESOME!

  2. It’s made with a veggie (shhh, kids don’t consider pumpkin a veggie)

  3. cupcake shape gives it a very high cool status rating

  4. moist and yet fluffy = easy to eat thereby improving chances that it will get eaten before the playground calls

  5. Pumpkin’s deep orange color means it’s loaded with carotenoids - phytochemicals that prevent free radicals from damaging cells. Who doesn’t need that when they are surrounded by 30 of their closest friends covered in contagious germs 6 hours a day, 5 days a week?

  6. Freeze well= super easy to pull out and add to lunches!


Whole Grain Pumpkin Muffin

  • 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (nutmeg and cloves to your liking too
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Blend dry ingredients. Put wet ingredients in a separate bowl and blend until smooth. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins. Recipe doubles easily.

If you were wondering, this recipe is also very forgiving. I just made a batch and left out the oil and the milk and they are still fantastic.

Happy Baking!