Healthy Coconut Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

Happy Monday! I know most Mondays aren’t all that happy but a batch of cookies should improve it drastically. Cookies almost always improve things drastically right? Especially cookies that have the words healthy AND chocolate in their name.

 Finished Cookies

I first experimented with these cookies a few weeks ago when I had some leftover chocolate bars after some serious s’more making. I’m not typically a baker, but I was in the mood for something sweet and not terribly bad for you. I decided to try and make these as figure friendly as I could while still passing the Robert test. The Robert test means I can feed him a cookie (or a pancake) and he just says “yum, that’s really good” instead of “Yum that’s really good but I can tell it’s healthy because it’s not very sweet/got a weird texture/is really flat for a pancake/etc”. What can I say, health-ifying baked goods isn’t ALWAYS a great success. Luckily these passed the Robert test with flying colors and he immediately ate 4 of them.  I have since made them several times, including a batch to take to our dear friends and brand new parents Ben and Annie! We went to deliver casseroles and cookies and meet baby Cooper over the weekend once they were home from the hospital and my goodness, she was even tinier and more adorable than I ever could have imagined!

 Cooper

So sweet! Robert loves babies and it was pretty precious to watch him hold her, and even more precious to see how excited he was for our friends. SOMEDAY we will be ready for one of our own and I know he will be a fantastic father. For now he will have to settle for Renly… and cookies Smile

Renly 2
Robert and his big baby

So what exactly makes these cookies so healthy you may wonder? Well for starters, there is NO refined sugar, they are sweetened with just a little honey and whatever you choose to mix in. I chose chopped dark chocolate and coconut, but you could use nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, even M and M’s, whatever your heart desires! There is also no dairy in these cookies, no eggs or butter and no oil! I replaced all of the above with unsweetened applesauce and it worked! Hooray!

 Ingredients

Confession: Often Sometimes when I bake I don’t read the recipe all the way through. I know this is the cardinal sin of baking, hence why I am not the best baker and don’t do it often. Cooking is a lot more forgiving, baking, well, let’s just say that if I had a dollar for every time I have started mixing ingredients only to realize that whoops, should have separated the wet from the dry first…well, yeah, I’d have a lot of dollars.

Honey Honey drizzle

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Slow Saturday Breakfast: Smoked Salmon & Sweet Potato Hash

Happy Saturday! This might be the first time in a while that I’ve posted a “Slow Saturday Breakfast” on an actual Saturday. ASB2k15 allows you to be on the ball like that.

ASB2k15? Adult Spring Break 2015 (Hey-O)! You may be wondering how adult spring break differs from that experienced during your younger years. There is significantly less drinking, A LOT more sleeping and  since the weather has been positively terrible in Tennessee this week, a lot less sunburn. After a weekend in Hilton Head with my mom, we both packed up and headed back to Chattanooga on Monday. Since we’ve been back it has rained non-stop which means instead of playing outside with Renly, walking/shopping downtown and laying out like I planned to do, I have been napping, reading and playing lots of indoor tug-of-war with Mr. Ren and his favorite toys. I miss the sun but napping in my childhood bed like I used to do after a tough day of high school (hah) is not a bad alternative. File this spring break under ‘lazy’ ‘relaxing’.

Spring Break Renly
           Spring Break Renly

Another thing I have been doing a lot of this week is eating breakfast foods for as many meals as possible. It’s only fitting since I’ve spent the majority of this week in my pajamas (I know, I am SO fun and exciting, right?!?). If I didn’t have my darling husband to cook for, I could easily eat breakfast for all three meals a day. Robert doesn’t mind the occasional pancake dinner but he’s more of a traditionalist when it comes to mealtimes. Unfortunately for him, ASB2k15 is not one of the perks of his job. He’s been stuck home working all week while I’ve been binging on oatmeal and egg sandwiches. That of course means he’s probably been binging on all the unhealthy stuff I try to limit when I’m around, so he might actually be enjoying this ASB2k15 almost as much as me Smile

Hash 3

Before you start worrying about me actually turning into a pancake, I have made it out of the house a bit this week. On Wednesday my mother, sister and I drove down to Atlanta for some girl time. We shopped at some cute boutiques in the Virginia Highlands area and then made our way to the Westsides Provisions District for a little more shopping and some lunch. We ate at Star Provisions, which is more or less a deli counter/bakery in the front of Bacchanalia, one of Atlanta’s most beloved restaurants. We each ordered a sandwich, Reuben for mom, Muffaletta for my sister and I got the Banh Mi, my first. Holy wow, I wish I had stopped to take a picture of our lovely sandwiches but we were so hungry that they were gone before I even considered it. My mom declared her reuben the best she’s ever had and my banh mi was outstanding. We all liked the muffaletta the least and agreed it would have been better toasted. If you’re in Atlanta and into sandwiches (who isn’t into sandwiches?) I highly recommend Star Provisions. They also have some gorgeous kitchen wares and linens to peruse while you wait for your food, and last but not least, a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams across the street. Ice cream is my favorite indulgence and I have been itching to try Jeni’s. I took advantage after our meal and followed up my lunch with two scoops: brown butter toffee crumble and brambleberry crisp. Delicious. It was the perfect ending to a lovely mother daughter day. It also fueled us for our final stop, Ikea. If you’ve never visited an Ikea, I can best sum it up by saying that it’s an experience. A very large, somewhat overwhelming, maze like experience. I’ll leave it at that.

Egg Lid On

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Easter Weekend & Artichoke Salsa

I meant to get this post written Sunday/Monday but you know…life. It happens.

Per usual, it’s been hectic around these parts. Next week is my spring break and my job always seems to gear up and get even more crazy busy than usual before a break. I am definitely looking forward to the time off, as I plan to spend it in Tennessee with my family. My mom is actually flying in this weekend so we can attend the funeral of a good friend’s grandmother. Not the best circumstances for a visit, but I am excited to see her and happy to have someone to make the drive home with! Not that Renly isn’t good company, but he tends to sleep a lot in the car and doesn’t really talk back much.

 Passenger

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend! My friend Caite got into town late Thursday night and we enjoyed a breakfast date (my favorite!) Friday morning followed by an afternoon spent in our bathing suits on a dock. It was just warm enough to be laying out and just windy enough not to be too hot, heavenly. We followed up our day in the sun with dinner at home and a late night visit to Hilton Head Ice Cream. Ice Cream is my weakness and if you are ever in HHI I suggest you give this place a try. All their flavors are homemade and chocked full of add-ins. Robert considers himself a cookies and cream connoisseur and he has deemed their Oreo ice cream “the best”. Believe it.

Oreo Cake
The birthday cake of a true Oreo lover…

Robert left us Saturday to head to his aunt’s home in Charleston. I was sad to see him go but a girls night with your best friend is certainly not something that happens every day so I didn’t stay blue for long. We took Renly on a long walk around one of my favorite neighborhoods on the water and then took ourselves shopping. That night we tried out a new restaurant in town that’s been on my to-do list, Poseidon. The food was underwhelming but the drinks were good and it was a fun excuse to get dressed up!

Green Renly
Instead of dying eggs, Renly dyed his head green with a roll in the grass

Caite left early Sunday and I had a few hours to get the house back in order before Robert got home and we headed to a late Easter dinner to celebrate my brother in law’s 40th birthday. The kids had a great time hunting eggs and it was nice to catch up with my family since I had missed them over the weekend. As Caite was leaving Sunday we discovered an Easter surprise on the front porch….

Easter Delivery Easter Delivery 2

Such a thoughtful husband I have, surprising me with wine and chocolate even when he is out of town Smile Love that man.

 Easter Basket 2

Since I knew Caite and I would be indulging this weekend I tried to make our Friday dinner at home a healthy one. I found this delicious looking recipe a few weeks ago on one of my favorite food blogs and was instantly inspired. I am not yet a grill master (summertime goal) so Robert grilled up the chicken while I made the sides, ham wrapped asparagus (the only way I like asparagus, I’ll share the non-recipe soon) and roasted carrots (yep, can’t stop, won’t stop). Grilled chicken is pretty ho hum on its own,  but a topping/sauce can make it sing. In typical indecisive fashion, I couldn’t decide between trying Kristin’s artichoke salsa or making my favorite creamy chimi churri sauce, so I went with both. They don’t call me the condiment queen for nothing! *Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I just gave myself that nickname, like right now as I was typing, but I do really love sauces so lets just go with it.

 Grilled Chicken with Artichoke Salsa

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Slow Saturday Breakfast: Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Mixed Berry Compote

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was full (as always) but fun! I had the pleasure of hosting a baby shower for my sweet friend Annie on Saturday. Robert and I met Annie and her husband Ben at church two years ago and they have quickly become some of our very best friends. When they told us they were expecting back in October I immediately started mentally planning the baby shower I wanted to throw them. I love to entertain and while planning this shower I was finally able to convinced Robert that we needed new living room furniture, double win! It all came together nicely and I can’t wait to meet their baby girl! I forgot to take pictures (such a bad blogger) but my mother in law snapped a few on her phone, excuse the poor lighting!

Drink table  Shower table edit

Shower Food 2   Shower Food 1

Annie and I
With the cute momma to be!

On Sunday we got a reprieve from the cold (finally!) which was so nice. Robert and I took full advantage of the time change and slept in, had a late breakfast and then took Renly to the beach for the first time in months.

 Robert and Renly at beach

The tide was so low that we were able to walk for miles and Renly found an Australian Sheppard who may or may not be his new best friend. They chased each other and romped through the waves for almost an hour, hence his wet sandy ‘do above.

Berry topped pancakes

Pancakes are a given after sleeping in on a Sunday, and they were on my mind the moment I woke up. Since I had random leftover ingredients from the baby shower, I decided to throw together some impromptu protein pancakes and they came out surprisingly great! If you are thinking “cottage cheese in a pancake? GROSS!” I get it…. but hear me out. I know it sounds weird, but ricotta cheese pancakes are a thing (and a yummy one at that) so making the jump to using cottage cheese instead doesn’t seem quite so out there. Cottage cheese is also lower calorie and lower fat than ricotta, although protein content is the same.

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Slow Saturday Breakfast: Easy Cheesy Shortcut(s) Breakfast Casserole

Merry Christmas week! Is that a thing? Like a birthday week? If it isn’t then it should be because Christmas is a lot more fun than your birthday.

Christmas tree
Our tiny Christmas tree, space was tight this year!

 

I am officially on  Christmas break and let me tell you it is just as glorious at 27 as it was at 17, or 7 for that matter. I think I still believed in Santa at 7 so maybe that was slightly more fun. I KNOW I didn’t appreciate the power of sleeping in and naps at 7 though so on second thought, it’s just as good now.

Now that Christmas break has  begun, I’m finally getting into the Christmas spirit. It’s been a little tough this year for several reasons. For one thing, I’ve been sick and it’s been unseasonably warm and rainy…not ideal Christmas wellness or weather. For another (and this is probably the main reason) this is the first Christmas ever that I won’t have spent with my family. My mom tearfully reminded me of this on the phone a few days ago, that she won’t have either of her girls for Christmas this year Sad smile FYI moms, reminders of this sort are not terribly helpful in cheering your children who are far away for the holidays. Since our families do not live in the same place, Robert and I navigated new married people territory this year and had to choose holidays. My family got Thanksgiving, his family gets Christmas and next year we swap. For those who haven’t crossed that bridge yet, as easy as you think it will be, even if you’re a holiday grinch, it isn’t. Every family has their own unique traditions and holiday quirks and no matter how wonderful the traditions you step into (or start anew) are, they still aren’t yours. I adore my in-laws, and I’m really excited to experience their Christmas (especially because my niece and nephew still believe in Santa!) but I know part of me will still be nostalgic for the holidays of my past. I KNOW this is part of life and growing up yada yada, but if your WHOLE family lives in the same place, count yourself lucky! I will get to see my parents on Tuesday as they plan to stop through Hilton Head on their way to see my sweet grandparents, so that is a definite plus!

Ingredients
Cheese not pictured because…early

 

Looking forward to all the festivities of this coming week, and enjoying all the fun we had this weekend has finally put me in the spirit! Not only was Friday my last day of work for two weeks, but my grandparents surprised Robert and I with an overnight visit on Friday evening! They drove over ten hours round trip to literally just have dinner and spend the night with us, did I mention they are the best? We took them to dinner, drove around to see Christmas lights and then came home to give them their Christmas gift and enjoy a piece of my favorite cake that my sweet nana made.  An entire cake is pretty much the last thing I need right now with all the other holiday goodies I’ve been consuming but the fact she that she baked it and brought it just for me pretty much melts my heart.

My grandparent’s left around noon on Saturday and Robert and I quickly tidied the house and ran errands before his family holiday party. His mother’s side of the family gets together each year on the weekend before Christmas to enjoy dinner and a White Elephant gift exchange. It’s always a great time and this year was no exception! Robert’s cousin and her husband spent the night with us and Sunday morning we all reconvened once again for breakfast to see everyone off. I was tasked with providing the breakfast casserole, an oldie but always a goodie.

eggs Egg Pour

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