sugar free

Soft Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

I've been loving having this moist, healthy chocolate chip blondie around when less healthy options are staring me in the face.

There are a couple things I love about this recipe:

1. The list of ingredients.  Chickpeas, peanut butter, a few healthy sweeteners, no flour, and your choice of chocolate chips.  That's it.

2. These blondies can be made up in one bowl (the food processor bowl) and thrown in the oven in literally minutes.

3. They are low carb, vegan, dairy-free + sugar-free (based on your choice of chips), and an awesome alternative to sugary blondies.  

4. They are soft, moist and gooey in the center!  

5.  These are awesome treats to make for your kids if you're trying to wean them from sugary treats, for after a workout, or bagged up for your purse to enjoy at a social outing when you want to control what you're eating.  (Check out the nutritional facts in the recipe below!)

(Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen's blondies.)

Soft Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

I'd love to hear what you think of this recipe.  I served these squares of blondies to the kids along side some whole milk plain yogurt for breakfast.


Don't be afraid to EAT the way you WANT to eat--it just means being prepared with healthy alternatives in your home and for when you're out and about and sugary-cravings or less nutritious options tempt you.   

Be HEALTHY for you.  Help your kids be healthy.  And LIVE BOLDLY.


Nicole Shiffler




fudgy black bean protein brownies


My kids love black beans with sour cream for lunch every so often.  And I love baking healthy versions of sweet treats for our family.

When I tasted these fudgy black bean brownies out of the oven I was absolutely amazed that they were loaded with black beans and tasted like the fudgiest brownie I'd ever eaten!  My biggest critics--my kids--devoured them with a glass of milk one night having no clue that they were not the gluten-filled, super sweet, traditional flour brownie.  (That was our movie night "treat" recently when we watched Paddington for the first time--loved the movie!!!)


I like this recipe because you can tailor it to your dietary needs.  You can make it an awesome brownie with some traditional sweetener in it (which is still only 15 net carbs--not an extreme sugar rush like most brownies) or make it relatively sugar free, low carb (based on how you sweeten it).

It's an excellent recipe to play around with, too, by switching out chip flavors, using chocolate protein powder instead of the cocoa powder if you want more protein, etc.

Here's to chocolate + good health!


Here's another protein recipe you might like....

healthy frozen yogurt bark (1)
healthy frozen yogurt bark (1)

My frozen yogurt bark!

Happy and healthy eating to you and yours.

the sleepy time gal

healthy frozen yogurt bark

Thanks to you interested Instagram followers, I am sharing this wonderful summer treat with you this morning.

This Healthy Frozen Yogurt Bark is very simple to make and can be enjoyed as a snack or fancy summer dessert.  I love the contrast of white with red and how healthy this bark truly is--seriously, if you ate 1/3 of the whole batch it's 26 grams of protein and less than 200 calories!  You can control the sugar/sweetness based on your preference.  The sweetness comes from honey, stevia, + the toppings you choose.  I used roughly 1 TBSP of honey in the recipe with some vanilla liquid stevia for a lightly sweetened yogurt base before adding the toppings.

You can customize the toppings for the bark before you pop it into the freezer too.  Use whatever fresh fruit, roasted nuts, or chopped chocolate you have on hand.

{I used a chocolate toffee bar for the chocolate topping as seen in the photo}

It is such a grand thing pulling that sheet of frozen yogurt bark out of the freezer.  All of my kids were amazed.

It's fun letting the kids help you break up the bark.  And because it's super healthy, they can break + eat as much as they want!

I like the bark best 1-2 minutes after it's come out of the freezer.  It isn't too cold and is just beginning to soften so eating it is quite refreshing.

Enjoy your summer and eat refreshing yummy food! ;)


puffed rice trail mix bars

I've set a goal for us this spring; to take a significant hike each week on a different trail.  (Significant just means we push ourselves in duration based on the shortest-legged person in the group: Rowan.)

So far we've been doing pretty awesome with the goal.  It has made me let go preferring the kitchen cleaned up and other daily household-maintenance tasks done before we walk out the door.  No, we all eat, get dressed for hiking, make up a hiking bar, and head out the door.  It's actually liberating for me to just walk away from the mess/undoneness of the house some mornings and get into the fresh air.)

Making some protein-packed, fun energy bar (and keeping it low sugar) is really one of our favorite parts of hiking.  I mean, come on.  Nourishing, tasty food makes experiences in life exciting and memorable.

Since I bake gluten-free and low sugar for my kids, picking up a bag of puffed brown rice from time to time is really fun to experiment with.  Because it is just puffed brown rice (with no added sugar), one whole cup of it is 13 net carbs (translation=low sugar).  That's roughly the same about of sugar/carbs in 1 cup of greek yogurt.

These tasty, colorful bars are packed with nutrient dense ingredients including the perfect amount of protein, crunch, sweetness, and portability for hikes, outdoor adventures, and yes, a simple afternoon snack.

These bars have the following ingredients:

pumpkin seeds

sunflower seeds


dried cherries (or cranberries)


peanut butter

puffed rice

touch of honey


Let me know if you try these simple bars.  They sure hit the spot when you're out in the middle of no where and you're famished. ;)


celebration skillet cookie

Did you have a special Valentine's Day?  I really hope you did.

I love making special "celebration breakfasts" for my family.  Over the years it has naturally become a tradition and something the children anticipate on special days.  I am always so eager to start preparations and table settings that it is always the last thought on my mind when I go to sleep the night before.

I've had an idea for this particular Valentine's Day breakfast I've been excited about: a healthified skillet cookie with a bit of a surprise inside for the kids.  I had seen this over-the-top giant cookie and wanted to make something fun like to but much healthier.  I adapted a skillet cookie recipe that was primarily almond flour and unsweetened shredded coconut and knew the texture and chewiness would be perfect.  It was a great place to start...

Although I may be a low-sugar baker at home for my family, I knew those bright red and pink valentine M&Ms would totally make my girls' Valentine's Day morning.  So, I incorporated their little festive treat into the healthified skillet cookie: double win.  

That is important to me as a mother; to prepare and teach about healthy food for my kids while still letting them be kids during these special times.  It is a challenging but thrilling task.

This celebration skillet cookie turned out so good.  It was warm and chewy with crispy edges from the butter and oh so hearty as more of a meal than just a sugary dessert.  Bobby was amazed by the flavor.  And without the candy, each slice is just 3 carbs unlike 45 carbs per slice, oh say, of Chili's skillet cookie.

 A few tips for baking healthy:

  • a touch of molasses really adds to the depth and flavor of natural low glycemic/sugar free sweeteners--it creates a brown sugar flavor
  • the coconut in this recipe adds incredibly to the texture and chewiness without the cookie tasting like coconut
  • I love the combination of butter and coconut oil in my baking: they create a crispy, flavorful baked good when used together

 *This recipe is slightly adapted to All Day I Dream of Food's Low Carb Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie.

I'm excited to try the celebration skillet cookie with our regular bittersweet chocolate chunks + walnuts.  The sky is the limit though!  Choose your favorite toppings, mix in and sprinkle on top.  This will be fun with not only a little valentine candy and halloween candy, but with festive red and green Christmas candy as well.

(The kids were happy to have their own little pouch of remaining candy for Valentine's Day.)  

After all of the berries and quiche were eaten, tummies full from the filling skillet cookie, I went ahead for another piece...  It was a great Valentine's Day. ;)


snow ice cream

{Recipe Exchange Friday is part of a series on The Sleepy Time Gal.  Share your own recipe below!}

Ok.  Snow ice cream is so awesome. 

I discovered the recipe online this week.  So we invited the girls' two neighbor friends over at 3:30pm sharp this week to make the ice cream as soon as they got home from school and right before my girls' ballet class.  With just a few ingredients (all were on hand) it whipped up super fast and it tastes so good!

The recipe we followed was Gimme Some Oven's recipe for snow ice cream.  You can check it out here.  I made a few modifications which delivers a more rich, sugar-free alternative.

Here's our creamy version of snow ice cream!


{Can you tell which kids aren't mine in this photo?  The ones that are sweetly still looking at the camera for me??  Thanks girls.  I guess that's what I get for being a photographer mom.}

So there's our successful recipe and now it's your turn:  What is a new recipe you and your family are loving right now?  Share a link below!

Happy weekend friends!  Go out and make some snow ice cream together--it'll be the highlight of your weekend. ;)

Other posts:

Recipe Exchange Friday: Zucchini Parmesan Pizza Crust


the ultimate peanut butter power bars

I've dedicated this week to a bit of a sugar detox for me after the holidays from the pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll, and other treats I've indulged in this past week.  To be honest with you, I felt pretty miserable over the holidays from overeating and eating foods I seldom eat.  It feels good to get back to balance in my eating and discipline.  Once I get back into the swing of eating healthy, my body doesn't miss the junk.  I love how that works.

These Ultimate Peanut Butter Power Bars have become one of our most favorite recipes in our home.  I can't even begin to tell you how flavorful, hearty, satisfying, and satisfyingly-sweet (in a mildly sweetened way) they are.

These are primarily sweetened by the 1/2 chocolate chips.  You can go super dark for a less sweet bar or semi sweet for a bit of a treat packed with protein or for a post workout boost.

I'm telling you though, these are honestly better than any grain granola bar I've ever eaten.  The mix of salty and slightly sweet with the variety of nuts, seeds, and coconut (which becomes toasted in the baking process) come together for something unbelievable.

These are excellent as a substantial snack, on their own for breakfast, or packaged up as a gift for a gluten free friend.  

It's simple:

Mix all ingredients together.

Press into parchment-lined pan.  Bake.

The result is absolutely amazing.   Trust me folks.  Amazing. 

Feel free to use whatever nuts or seeds you have on hand as well.

I'd love to hear if your family loves these bars as much as we do.   Try 'em out.

And happy, healthy holiday eating this season folks.


whipped pumpkin + spice cream cheese

I've been dabbling with making healthy bagels for my kids lately.  And I've been loving reworking this bagel recipe from Maria Mind Body Health a bit to make some savory bagels for bagel sandwiches  and cinnamon/raisin bagels for breakfast.

This recipe came about after the first batch of these beautiful protein-packed cinnamon raisin bagels came out of the oven.  This whipped pumpkin +spice cream cheese whips up in minutes and is so enjoyable to keep in the fridge throughout the week.

Here's how I like to eat it...

  • with baby carrots
  • slathered on coconut flour pancakes
  • in place of butter on muffins
  • dolloped in a protein shake
  • with sliced apples

We love to serve up this pumpkin cream cheese on a tray full of sliced apples.  The two pair together beautifully for healthy + kid friendly entertaining: it's our "treat" we brought to our recent Fall Carnival at church.  And I'm proud to say that among the treats and sweets at the activity, the apples + dip were snatched up the fastest.

See?  Kids really do crave nutritious foods! :)

 I'd love to be inspired... What are some of your favorite kinds of flavored cream cheese?


flourless peanut butter + chocolate zucchini brownie tart

One of my favorite recipes I would make as a young wife and mother when I knew guests would be stopping over was Barefoot Contessa's Brownie Tart.  It was simple to make, quite indulgent, and looked so pretty in my white ceramic fluted dish.

That love for chocolate is still strong in these older bones of mine.  But so is my conscious effort to bake things with more sustenance and nutrition than the super sugary/sweet treats I once baked and filed under the category of "good housewife/good mother".  Not necessary I now know.

And if baking for your kids and enjoying a healthy + exciting snack for yourself is your goal, this Flourless Peanut Butter + Chocolate Zucchini Brownie Tart is your ticket to a happy and healthy family treat.

Come check it out.  You'll be amazed by the ingredients...

As you know, my goal with baking is to incorporate good, nutritious ingredients that will build our bodies instead of tear them down.  I think you can still eat fun things--sweet things--but do it balancing out the whole ingredient list so you feel well, filled, and nourished.

This brownie tart is so moist from the zucchini, rich + creamy from the peanut butter, and just the right sweetness from the chocolate chips.  It is absolutely divine!  And after everyone of my girls had seconds, even my non-sweet tooth husband and son both had two slices.

Why I love this brownie tart and can eat it (and serve it to my kids) guilt-free as a snack:

  1. High in protein--double the amount of Contessa's tart slice: builds stronger bodies and is a million times more filling than a standard sugar-laded brownie
  2. Packed with zucchini
  3. Safe for many diets: gluten free, grain free, dairy free, paleo, primal, low carb friendly. (If you are peanut sensitive or Paleo, switch out peanut butter for almond butter.)
  4. Only 201 calories a slice compared to Barefoot Confessa's tart slice at 510 calories a slice!
  5. Only 11.3 net carbs per slice compared to Contessa's slice at 60 carbs a slice.
  6. It's filling and satiating like a granola bar but feels like a treat.



beach cookies

As tradition, we made a special beach cookie before we left for our trip to the Outer Banks.  It's something that both the girls and I look forward to because 1) we love coming up with some creative, unique cookie each year and 2) we seldom make decorated sugar cookies around here and the process is really quite fun.

The Cookie:

The first task: how to make a healthier sugar cookie.   I chose to use the very versatile sugar cookie recipe from the cookbook [amazon_link id="1936608367" target="_blank" ]Against All Grain[/amazon_link].  It creates a wonderfully flavorful sugar cookie that can definitely stand alone and stand up to a traditional flour sugar cookie.

Because of the almond flour called for in the recipe, these are nice and substantial cookie.  These protein-packed cookies are filling enough after one, maybe two, which I love.  And they are nicely sweetened with honey which adds to the layers of flavors.  Excellent base cookies for any special occasion. (I'm thinking of possibly making these in place of Rowan's second birthday cake since he doesn't care for cake or cupcakes... maybe he'll eat a cookie??)

The Icing:

The icing was experimental and, as experiments can go, I won't do it again the next time.  Being low on a variety of my sweeteners (ZSweet, coconut sugar, etc.) I tried making royal icing using Splenda.  It definitely allowed us to flood the cookies and acted like a decorating royal icing but it left an aftertaste.

The Decorating:

This year we knew exactly what our beach cookie would be after a few weeks of researching: this playful beach-themed cookie.  Johanna had requested and watched this video enough to have the whole process memorized when it came time to make them. And how proud I was of the girls for each of the cookies they decorated!  I especially loved their hearts drawn in the sand with a tooth pick.  I helped here and there but they truly owned these cookies.

And as tradition, we packed up our beach cookies and drove them the whole day to the beach and brought them out to share with the kids' cousins our first full day at the beach.

And there you have it: this year's beach cookie.  And now we can move very happily into fall...

Wanna see our favorite beach cookies?

seashells cookies

lighthouse cookies

Have a great weekend friends.