Easy Chocolate Flourless Cake

I’m a big fan of Hungry Girl and other food writers who have made a career out of helping people eat healthier without sacrificing taste. This recipe is a variation of one that Hungry Girl first posted. I’ve discovered that some people in my family cannot digest sugar substitutes, so this recipe calls for granulated sweetener–your choice. I use either coconut sugar or Stevia baking blend. I also substitute Himalayan sea salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an eight-inch round cake pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with oil.

In a food processor, combine the following:

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkie pie mix)
1 snack container unsweetened applesauce


1/4 tsp. Himalayan sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder (use aluminum-free)
1/4 cup granulated sweetener (again, I like either coconut sugar or Stevia baking blend

Blend until it becomes a puree. Stir in 1 tbsp. mini chocolate chips. Fold into your prepared cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Press 2 more tbsp. mini chocolate chips onto the top. Allow to cool.

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Easy Lemon Chicken

Lemon chicken with a light savory sauce has always been one of my favorite dinners. Studded with caper berries and lemon slices, it’s always an easy everyday supper, and it’s also pretty enough for company. Here is my no-fail lemon chicken recipe:

Robin’s Lemon Chicken

4 chicken fillets, cut in half and tenderized (place chicken pieces between slices of plastic wrap and pound until fillets are about 1/4 inch thick)
2 small lemons, sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth (I use my favorite Bell View brand)
3 tbsp. caper berries
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter (I like Kerrygold)
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Slice lemons into rounds.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter into olive oil. Add minced garlic and stir for one minute. Add chicken fillets and cook for about two-three minutes on each side until slightly brown.

While chicken is browning, mix lemon juice and chicken broth. Add half of lemony broth mixture to the skillet and lower heat to medium. Add lemon rounds and caper berries to cook with the chicken. Allow chicken, lemon slices and capers to cook in this lemony broth for about seven to 10 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked through. Remove chicken onto a serving platter.

Add cornstarch to remaining lemon-broth mixture, and pour into the skillet, stirring until the sauce is thickened, about two to three minutes. Pour lemon sauce over chicken and arrange caper berries and lemon slices on serving platter as a garnish.

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Robin’s Favorite Green Bean Soup

When I spend time at my home in Pennsylvania, I often make a savory soup that my family loves. My Aunt Jane especially likes it, and I promised to share the recipe, so here it is. It’s just as good with or without chicken, in my opinion. I think the secret to the flavor is in the broth. I use Bell View brand chicken or vegetable broth and add two teaspoons to this recipe to enhance the flavor. For those of you living in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, you can get it at Market Basket.

Robin’s Green Bean Soup

3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (optional)
32 oz. chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans French-style green beans
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup onion or 3 tbsp. onion flakes
2 tsp. minced garlic or garlic powder
2 tsp. Italian mixed herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)
2 tsp. Bell View brand chicken or vegetable broth dissolved in 1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium-low and continue cooking for one hour until flavors have melded.

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Green Beans with Toasted Walnuts and Balsamic Glaze

Green beans are one of the most versatile side dishes, with an endless variety of ways to serve them. One of my all-time favorites is to saute them in olive oil with a little minced garlic and serve with toasty walnuts and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction.

To toast walnuts, simply spread 1-2 cups on a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the walnuts turn a shade darker. Set aside. You can save leftover walnuts in a covered container or freeze them for later use.

To reduce balsamic vinegar into a sauce, stir 1 cup of balsamic vinegar over high heat in a small saucepan until vinegar comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue simmering while stirring for about 10 minutes until vinegar is reduced to about 1/3 cup.

To prepare the green beans, trim off the ends of a pound of fresh green beans and set aside. In a large skillet, over medium heat, add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Stir 2 tsp. minced garlic in the olive oil, and heat for about 1 minute. Add green beans and saute for 4-5 minutes, leaving them crisp tender.

Serve the green beans on a platter, toss with toasted walnuts, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

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Skillet Apples

I opened up my crisper drawer yesterday morning and saw three perfect Granny Smith apples. I had been spiralizing carrots and suddenly, inspiration struck. Why not spiralize the apples, saute them with a little Kerry Gold butter, cinnamon and some brown sugar? (Actually, I used the Truvia brown sugar blend that works just as well.)

For those on the Paleo diet, you could substitute coconut oil for the butter, and use honey or maple syrup in place of brown sugar. Vegans, cut out the butter and substitute with your choice of healthy cooking oil.

Lots of people enjoy skillet apples with pork chops. That’s how I remember them, growing up. But yesterday, I had these apples for breakfast with scrambled eggs and lean ham. Last night, I enjoyed them with a dollop of Greek yogurt. They’d also be great with a dab of Cool Whip and a drizzle of caramel syrup.

Skillet Apples

3 Granny Smith apples, spiralized and pulled apart into rings
3 tbsp. butter or coconut oil
2 tbsp. brown sugar (Truvia makes a brown sugar blend that acts just like regular brown sugar) or a drizzle of maple syrup or honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Over medium heat, melt butter or oil and add apples. Saute for about five minutes. Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir to combine.

Continue stirring apples until they are softened and covered with syrup.

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Easy, Quick Mediterranean Zoodles

One of my new fave dinners (or snacks) is a skillet sensation made from spiralized zucchini, along with kalamata olives, capers, onion, garlic, sundried tomatoes and feta.

I make a big skillet full and add the feta when I serve it. For you vegans, it’s great without the feta, too. I also like it cold for a snack.

3 large zucchini, spiralized using the thinnest blade
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely-diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/3 cup kalamata olives, diced
2 tbsp. diced sun-dried tomatoes (if they are in oil, pat them dry. If they are dried, rehydrate in hot water for about 15 minutes)
1 tbsp. caper berries
4 oz. feta cheese
sea salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute under translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add zucchini noodles and turn the heat up to medium-high. Season with salt and pepper. Add diced kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers, and saute until zucchini is wilted and fork-tender, about 4 minutes.

Spoon onto dinner plates and sprinkle with feta.

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Savory Baked Chicken Thighs

I stopped eating fried chicken a long time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it. Fortunately, now every time I see a KFC commercial, I think of the recipe I’m sharing with you today. It is one I like just as well as fried chicken.

Although you can use other cuts of chicken, I prefer chicken thighs over chicken breasts or fillets. Thigh meat has more flavor and stays moist. Chicken thighs also tend to be less expensive than chicken breasts or fillets.

This breading is a slightly tweaked version of one shared by a friend of the family with Aunt Jane. The originator is Dave Strachan (no relation, except that we Strachans all stick together).


3/4 cup whole-grain seasoned bread crumbs
3/4 cup Parmesan
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt or sea salt

Mix together breading ingredients and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a baking pan with oil.

Place a quarter cup of the breading on a plate. Beat one egg in a bowl or use an equal amount of egg substitute. Dip chicken thighs in egg and then in the breading, using a fork to make sure the meat is covered with bread crumbs. Place breaded chicken thigh in the baking pan. Repeat with other pieces of chicken, adding more breading to the plate, as needed. Place remainder of breading in a covered container in the refrigerator for future use.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and take off the foil. Bake another 25-30 minutes until chicken thighs are cooked and golden brown.

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My New Favorite Brownies

I’m a recipe stalker. I’ll admit it.

I read recipes obsessively, and when I see one that looks interesting, I’ll experiment with it, tweaking here and there until it suits. Over the years, I’ve tried numerous cookie and brownie recipes using mashed beans in place of unhealthier ingredients. In every case, I have not been able to tell that there are beans in the recipe, and my taste-testers have loved them.

So when I found a recipe for black bean brownies with no flour and no refined sugar…well, I knew I had to play around with that one. Even the batter was delicious.

15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1/2 cup quick cooking oats (if using rolled oats, pulse them in the food processor to break them down)
2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp. baking powder (I buy brands that do not contain aluminum)
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an eight-inch square pan and set aside.

In a food processor, mix together black beans, oats, flaxseed, cocoa powder, baking powder, sea salt, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla. Pulse and stir occasionally until batter is smooth. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Bake 25-30 minutes. These brownies will firm up as they cool. Cut into squares.

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A Healthier Potato Salad You’ll Love

Now that summer weather is here, we’re having picnics again. And what food is almost a requirement of a picnic? Potato salad.

Growing up, my mother made the most amazing potato salad with a dressing made of mayonnaise and sour cream, milk, a little vinegar and some sugar. Now that I’m older and watching sugar and fat grams, I have found new ways to have potato salad that still fit in with my Weight Watchers program.

Today, we’re having potato-cauliflower potato salad with a dressing made of mayonnaise, nonfat Greek yogurt, cider vinegar and a little stevia. Or use sugar; it’s your choice.

4 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
2 bags frozen cauliflower or 1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
2 ribs celery, diced
1 cup minced onion (about 1/2 large onion)

4 hard-boiled eggs, diced (optional

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar or 1 packet stevia

Mix to combine and set aside.

Boil the potatoes until fork-tender, drain in a colander, and rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking. Using the same pot, boil water and place two bags of cauliflower florets in the water. Or you can microwave the cauliflower about five minutes. Cook until fork-tender, about five to seven minutes. Drain cauliflower in the colander, rinse with cold water, and dice into smaller pieces.

In a large serving bowl, mix potatoes, celery, onion, and dressing. Chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle with paprika and garnish with fresh parsley.

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Asian Celery Bites

One of my favorite afternoon snacks is a simple, savory marinated celery snack that always tastes great. I make it ahead of time for the week, marinate it in dressing in a covered container, and enjoy it in the afternoon when I crave a crunchy snack.


1 bunch celery, cleaned of leaves, washed and diced diagonally into bite-size pieces (save the leaves and smaller pieces to use in other recipes or salads)

In a large container that has a lid, mix together the following ingredients for the marinade:

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free alternative
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 tsp. minced garlic (I use the kind in a jar)
2 tsp. minced ginger (the kind in a jar is fine)
1 tbsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce

Add celery pieces, cover, and shake a few times. Refrigerate, shaking a few more times over the next 24 hours.

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