The Workout Refresher: Fruity Coconut Water

It might be a health craze, but I love me some coconut water. My cardio routine is hardly marathon worthy so I avoid drinking anything that overcompensates. Coconut water is a natural source that is rich in potassium without all the crazy bells and whistles of a sports drink. There was a phase in college when I thought Gatorade was like orange juice until I realized there was direct correlation between sleeping poorly and having a bottle before bed. Smart, right?

At some point in time, I was inspired to make a concoction of blending coconut water, bananas, and frozen berries. It was absolutely delicious and a real thirst quencher drenched in potassium and antioxidants. The beauty is there are no necessary guidelines. The hubby prefers an almost water-like consistency so we skip the banana. His favorite combination is a handful of mixed berries blended with coconut water; a close second is an even mix of frozen mango/pineapple. I'm eager to try these versions from The Chic Site but honestly, we love it because it can be thrown in the blender with minimal thought!

And remember, not all coconut waters are created equal. I'm always searching for the highest potassium count for the hydration benefits and the pinkest color for the best flavor. Check the labels and compare!

Fruity Coconut Water

1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries
14 ounces of coconut water

Blend until berries are finely chopped; it may be a bit frothy at the top which is fine!

If you prefer a thicker consistency, drop a dollop of plain yogurt, a couple ice cubes, a frozen banana, or more fruit.

If you prefer a thinner consistency, add a splash of water or juice.

Light Mocha Coconut-Kissed Cake

When I get a craving for sweets, I try to go for a bite of fruit or a few pieces of dark chocolate as they're the more healthy alternative. Sometimes though... they don't quite cut it. This Light Mocha Coconut-Kissed Cake is great if you're craving something naughty but don't want all the guilt. That's not to say it's guilt-free... just a little less then the full-on version that I have made in the past. Got to love these Finnish desserts!

The selling points of this confection include a significant reduction in the amount of sugar (only 40 grams), the use of apple sauce instead of butter, and healthy bit of spelt and coconut flour. If you haven't used spelt flour before, it has a slightly nutty flavor and creates a hearty, dense quality. Be wary, we couldn't find it at the standard issue grocery store and had to go to Whole Foods. 

The icing on top is more of a glaze. There is no butter involved and the thickness depends on how much coffee (or sub with milk) that you add. Since it is a glaze, I found that poking the cake with a fork before applying the topping helped it really seep in. 

And finally, a generous sprinkling of shredded, unsweetened coconut seals the deal. Slap a raspberry or cherry on top for additional cute factor.

Be advised, if you're using cupcake liners as I did, the glaze can make the cake stick to the paper. I recommend baking this directly into a buttered/sprayed pan and then serving in a liner. Scandi Foodie actually bakes this recipe in small loaf tins. Do what works for your kitchen!

For the full recipe, be sure to check out this post over on Scandi Foodie. You can also try out the full-guilt version here

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pie Cookies

It all started with my in-laws birthdays. They're only one year, and one day apart- what were the chances? His favorite kind of cake is carrot while she prefers chocolate. Making two cakes for one weekend isn't necessarily out of the question but even I will concede it would've been overkill. Not trying to give the entire family diabetes, nah mean?

The settlement was to make a chocolate cake (post to follow) as I have yet to find what I would describe as the perfect recipe. Don't get me wrong! There have been several, "wow... this cake is amazing moments!" Smitten Kitchen's version with ganache is beautifully rich while What Katie Ate's rendition incorporates blackberry jam in the batter, topped with fudge frosting. I love the simplicity of SixOneSeven's chocolate cake, the intensity when omitting flour, and moisture of David Lebovitz's. Clearly the jury is out.

What I do know, however, is that America's Test Kitchen's Carrot Cake knocked my socks off and I haven't looked back since. It's going to take some time before I'm willing to try another recipe. As a substitute for cake, I decided to give a go at carrot cake cookies. I melded together lessons learned from other bloggers and aspects from the America's Test Kitchen's cake (currants are king). 

The end result... these Carrot Cake Whoopie Pie Cookies! Much to my delight, the father-in-law loved them. Usually, his response to food that he likes is, "this is pretty good!" This time? He said he would buy them if they were for sale. Score.

Then chaos broke out. 

As I had merged ideas from several sources to create these cookies, the recipe was jotted down on a piece of paper. When it was time to write this post, I tucked that piece of paper into my back pocket to scan at work (don't tell). That same co-worker buddy and I ran a quick errand as an early afternoon break. When we returned to the office, I gasped.

The paper was gone.

I ran back to the store and sure enough... there it was crumpled on the ground in between aisles. Phew! That was close! As a reward, I treated myself to a little detour into a store that was on the way back to the office. Oh who am I kidding... I went in because there was a cute dog that I wanted to pet. *blush*

Ahem. As I strolled out the door, out came gasp number two. 

In all of 30 seconds... I had managed to lose the piece of paper. AGAIN. It felt surreal- am I really so absent-minded?  Maybe. But I'm equally stubborn. To the confusion of the staff, I proceeded to stalk the ground of their store and the outside sidewalk. There was no way in heck I was willing to part ways with these cookies just yet. They were my ticket to bonus points with the father-in-law!

Amazingly enough, with the help of the staff, the paper resurfaced after a ten minute search. It had been kicked underneath a display a few feet away from where I was petting the doggie. Oh what sweet relief. 

Long story short, I hope you enjoy this recipe because it has had quite a journey.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies Cookies
modified from Gourmet and America's Test Kitchen

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon slat
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated carrots (I use a zester)
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped


8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1/6 cup buttermilk powder
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
6ounces cream cheese, chilled and cut into equal pieces

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, nuts, and currants at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Drop 1 tablespoons batter per cookie 3 inches apart on baking sheets. Flatten with your palm until they are the thickness that you like- I went for more a chubby cookie. The thinner you flatten them, the less baking time required. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes total. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

While cooking, use a stand mixer fitted with paddle to beat butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low; add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time; and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between. You can also drizzle on top if you want a traditional cookie.