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Baked Brie is such an easy and delicious classic holiday appetizer, but the way you prepare it can really make a difference for your waistline and overall health. I know a lot of people like to prepare it by topping it with jelly and wrapping it in puff pastry, however this adds quite a few calories and refined carbohydrates, which is not great for someone that is trying to at least eat semi-healthy over the holidays. I like to prepare my brie with real ingredients like nuts and fruit so at least the extra calories I will be adding to the brie will come with nutrients such as vitamins, fiber and “good for you” fatty acids. Plus, I think my brie tastes better, but I may be a little biased.

Healthier Baked Brie

Baked Brie with Pecans and Pears

Ingredients
1 Wheel of Brie ~7 oz
Cooking Spray
1/3 Cup Chopped Pecans
1 Pear – Cored and Diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray small sauté pan with cooking spray. Sauté pears and pecans in pan with cinnamon and maple syrup on medium heat, stirring continually for about 5 min, or until pears and pecans are warm and fragrant. Place Brie in a Brie baking dish (I love mine from Crate and Barrel:  http://www.crateandbarrel.com/brie-baking-dish/s672630), top with pear and pecan topping and cover with lid. Cook in oven for ~10-15 minutes.

Nutrient Analysis
7 Servings
Per Serving (1 oz cheese plus toppings)
152 Calories and 5.2 grams of Saturated Fat

For comparison, 1 serving of baked brie cooked with a Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheet has 232 calories and 9 grams of saturated fat per serving.

Baked Brie
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Fall is here now so that means lots of warm autumn flavors and ingredients like pumpkin, apples and sweet potatoes. While it is still pretty warm here in south Florida, it is October and I am ready to make some fall recipes.

Pumpkin has many nutritional benefits and adding pureed unsweetened pumpkin to baked goods not only adds a different flavor but also adds vitamin A and dietary fiber, both things that are often lacking in desserts. And not to mention the calories added from the pumpkinare relatively low.

A few years ago I made a gluten free pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving dessert and it was moist, pumpkiny and delicious (the recipe can be found here: Pumpkin Cake). However, I wanted to alter the ingredients slightly to my liking and put the batter in a muffin tin so I can have perfectly portioned mini cakes, instead of having to slice a cake. I did add some chocolate chips to make it more dessert like but if you prefer more of a muffin appropriate for breakfast, you can leave those out.

Mini Pumpkin Cakes

Makes 12 cupcakes/muffins

Ingredients
1 Cup Unsweetened Canned Pure Pumpkin Puree
2 Cups Almond flour
3 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Unpacked Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Honey
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Cooking Spray
1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Add almond flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and spices to a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Add eggs,pumpkin, honey, vanilla extract, and oil to a smaller mixing bowl and stir. Slowly add wet ingredients into dry ingredients, mixing until uniform. Add chocolate chips to batter and mix in if desired. Spray 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each cup until about 3/4 full. Bake in oven for 20 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Mini Pumpkin Cake and Poppy

Nutrition Info (per muffin)

With Chocolate Chips
Calories: 230
Fat: 14g
Carbohydrates: 20g
Protein: 7g
Fiber: 3.3g

Without Chocolate Chips
Calories: 180
Fat: 11g
Carbohydrates: 14.5g
Protein: 6.5g
Fiber: 2.6g
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In December I was in a mad search for a healthy gluten free appetizer to take to a holiday party and I could not find anything that really struck my fancy. I found a few recipes that incorporated sweet potato rounds, which I thought was really interesting but they had guacamole on top, which sounds delicious and I probably will make that at some point in the future, but I wanted something a little more wintery and holiday-ish to bring. (If you are curious about the guacamole sweet potato appetizers, I have a few pinned on my pinterest page @DelishnNutrish) So I knew I wanted sweet potatoes as base, they are full of vitamin A, fiber and potassium and low in fat, making them a nutritional powerhouse, plus they are delicious. But what do I put on top? While I contemplated this I turned on an old re-run of Iron Chef America….and the secret ingredient was….mascarpone cheese! So i decided to make a mascarpone cheese topping with pecans to give it a little crunch (pecans are heart healthy and can actually help lower bad cholesterol) and some vanilla extract and cinnamon sugar. The topping turned out really delicious and the flavors melded well with the sweet potato base. You can actually do this recipe hot or cold, I went with hot but I think it would be just as good cold.

Sweet Potato Bites

Ingredients

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Allspice

8 oz Mascarpone Cheese

3/4 Cup Chopped Pecans

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes off well and slice in 1/4 inch thick rounds (Don’t peel the skin off).  Add slices of potatoes to mixing bowl and coat with olive oil. Add cinnamon and allspice and mix until spices are evenly distributed. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place sliced potatoes on parchment. Bake for ~30 minutes. While potatoes are baking, you can prepare the topping. Mix remaining ingredients together in a small mixing bowl (cheese, pecans, cinnamon sugar and vanilla) and refrigerate until potatoes are done cooking. After potatoes are cooked through (~30 minutes), remove from oven. (If serving cold, allow to cool) Add topping by the teaspoonful to each potato slice. If serving hot, put potatoes with topping back into the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and serve. Makes 35-40.

Sweet Potato Bites

 

 

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