The Hungry Swimmer: Decadent Dessert Recipes

by Zoe Gregorace 0

January 13th, 2020 Lifestyle

I am a total sucker for dessert. Cake, cookies, brownies – you name it and I am into it! While I
am no stranger to Ghirardelli Premium brownie mix or that hefty tub of Toll House chocolate
chip cookie dough, I love baking with non-conventional ingredients. Things like coconut sugar
and almond flour are less processed alternatives to the all-purpose flour and white sugar we
typically find in baked goods. Not only are these ingredients less processed, but alternative
sweeteners, such as coconut sugar, honey and maple syrup, have a relatively low glycemic
index compared to refined, white sugar. By using these healthier ingredients, you can get just
the same amount of sweetness as your traditional baked goods without the intense spike in your
blood glucose levels! For the sake of transparency, this does not mean that these recipes are
sugar-free. Since I am all about leading a balanced lifestyle, incorporating these alternatives
allow me to enjoy sweet treats while utilizing more wholesome ingredients. While I am a big
believer in being wary of your refined sugar intake and seeking natural foods to satisfy your
sweet tooth, I advocate for moderation over elimination.

That being said, I want to share with you some of my healthier baking recipes that are
guaranteed to make those taste buds leap for joy. With all due respect, Betty Crocker who?

Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Blondies


  • 1 cup almond flour ⠀
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée⠀
  • 2 eggs⠀
  • 1/4 cup almond milk⠀
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar⠀
  • 1 ½ cup nut butter (I used creamy almond butter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla ⠀
  • 1 ½  tsp baking soda⠀
  • 1 tsp cinnamon⠀
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • Handful of dark chocolate chunks (mix some into batter + some on top once poured into dish)⠀

*Preheat oven to 350F & bake for 20 minutes in a parchment lined baking dish. Let cool for ~1 hour before cutting and devouring!

Can’t stop dreaming of ooey, gooey, melt in your mouth bites of melted chocolate-y
perfection? I got you covered! These blondies are so incredible, they’ll knock your cozy socks off.
Just picture it- you’re kicking back on the couch, sinking your teeth into that warm doughy blondie and washing it down with a cold glass of (almond) milk. Sounds like the best way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon! Before you criticize me for sharing a pumpkin recipe months after the fall season, it is important to recognize just how versatile this ingredient is. With its smooth and creamy texture, pumpkin puree may be utilized as a replacement for butter or oil, since it also provides the same amount of moisture.

After preheating your oven to 350F, first combine the flour, pumpkin, eggs, sugar and almond milk in a large bowl. Measure out the nut butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for several seconds until it is runny. Stir the nut butter in the bowl and after it cools, fold it into the mixture in the large bowl. Next, mix in the vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Fold in some of the chocolate chunks and save the rest for later. Bake for 20 minutes and let cool for 5 minutes. Top blondies with the remainder of the chocolate chunks and continue to let them cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Peppermint Fudge Brownies


  • 3/4 cup almond flour⠀
  • 6 tbsp cacao powder⠀
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder⠀
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt⠀
  • 1/4 cup honey⠀
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup⠀
  • 2 tbsp nut butter (I used creamy almond butter) 
  • 2 eggs⠀
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil ⠀
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract⠀
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract⠀
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk⠀
  • Handful of milk + white chocolate chips⠀
  • 1 crushed candy cane ⠀

*Preheat oven to 350F & bake for 20-25 minutes in a parchment-lined baking dish. Sprinkle crushed candy cane over top after baking.

Disclaimer, here is another seasonal recipe but it was too delicious to keep to myself!
There’s no better way to mourn the holiday season than keeping the spirit alive with more
peppermint treats! These brownies were such a hit this year, seriously. Something about the
chocolate and peppermint combo really “hits different”, as the youths say.

After preheating the oven to 350F, start by mixing the flour, cacao powder, baking powder,
salt, honey and maple syrup into a bowl. Once smooth, mix in the eggs and nut butter. Measure out ¼ cup coconut oil into a microwave-safe bowl and soften it in the microwave for a few seconds until runny. Stir to get rid of any clumps and pour the melted coconut oil into the bowl. Add in the vanilla, peppermint and almond milk. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips and bake. While you wait for the brownie to be done, place a candy cane in a plastic, resealable bag and crush with a heavy object (I recommend using a heavy reusable water bottle or the back of a large spoon). Once the brownies are out of the oven, sprinkle the crushed candy cane over top and let brownies cool before cutting.

Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Cookies


  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup nut butter (I used creamy almond butter)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup mini marshmallows 

*Preheat oven to 350F & bake for 12-15 minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

These cookies have an incredible texture and can be slightly addictive. Highly recommend
whipping these up as the perfect snow day activity or enjoying them during a cozy movie night!

After preheating the oven to 350F, mix together the egg, sugar, nut butter and vanilla. Slowly
stir in the cocoa powder and baking soda, as the batter will begin to thicken and the cocoa powder may require some serious stirring to fully incorporate. Add in the chocolate chips and
marshmallows. This step may be a little tricky, since the marshmallows may be difficult to combine with the batter. I recommend getting down and dirty and using your hands to mix. Roll the batter into balls and place them at least an inch or two apart on the baking sheet. Depending on how voluptuous you want your cookies to be, this batter should yield about 8-12 cookies. While baking, heck on the cookies periodically to ensure they are spreading out. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. Once the marshmallows appear gooey and toasted, that is when you know the cookies are done!

Check out my page for more recipe inspiration and be sure to share your sweet creations with me

About Zoe Gregorace

Zoe Gregorace is currently studying Nutrition Policy at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and recently graduated from Tufts University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and was a proud member of the Tufts Swimming and Diving team (Go Jumbos!). During her 16 year career as a competitive swimmer, she developed a passion for sports nutrition. She enjoys writing on the topic of nutrition, health and wellness and posts her meal creations on her Instagram page @whatzoeeeats. As a former college swimmer, she strives to share recipes and nutrition tips to promote balanced eating and optimize sports performance.

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