Healthy Brownies. Say whaaat?

Carley S. wrote, “I would love to see a healthy way to make brownies! If that’s possible. Haha.”

Well, Carley, you’re in luck. I knew the person to ask for this task. A cave girl! Shannon of Cavegirl Bakes had just the recipe, because she’s in the business of healthy baking. In fact, in addition to being a PR maven by day, she trains and inspires others to lead a healthy lifestyle. And she bakes! I taste tested these brownies myself and am thankful to Shannon for allowing me to pass this recipe along to you!

Double-Down Monkey Protein Brownies

Her recipe for Double-Down Monkey Protein Brownies offers a double dose of banana and chocolate thanks to both chocolate and banana-flavored protein powder, plus mashed banana and cocoa powder. These flavor bombs are satisfying while being grain-free, dairy-free and – shockingly – sugar-free. The bananas and small amount of agave nectar make them plenty sweet. Plus, they are packed with protein and healthy fats from the almond butter and eggs.

These and other batches of “Paleo and Primal” baked goods can be ordered for delivery nationwide through Shannon at shannon@badassfitness.net. Learn more about Cavegirl Bakes gourmet muffins and brownies!

Cave Girl Bakes Double-Down Monkey Protein Brownies

Double-Down Monkey Protein Brownies from Cavegirl Bakes
Makes one batch of about 16 brownies

4 bananas (3 mashed, 1 sliced)
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cocoa flour
1 scoop each of GNC Lean Shake Rich Chocolate and Banana
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoon butter, coconut oil, or ghee
1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8×8 baking pan.

Mix the three mashed bananas (setting aside the sliced banana for the end) and all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl using a hand mixer.

Stir in the sliced bananas and the chocolate chips (if using chips).

Pour the batter into the greased pan, spreading it evenly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean (these will be fudgy and moist).

Try not to devour them all at once!

Nutritional info per brownie:
185 calories, 3 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs, 6 grams of protein and 12 grams of sugar (mostly from the bananas)




Crowd-pleasing Dip for the Holidays!

If you are fortunate enough to know a member of the Junior League of Tallahassee, you may have had the pleasure of trying the famed JLT Feta Black Bean Dip. It’s a treat!

This dip is a winner among crowds. It might be the apple cider vinegar, the sugar or maybe the shoe peg corn. Oh heck, it’s everything! I highly recommend adding this to your list of favorite party dips. Served with Fritos (definitely the sturdy “Scoops,” since you won’t want to miss a drop), this dip tends to disappear quickly. Thankfully, the recipe serves 30 handily, making it great for larger gatherings, including holiday entertaining.

Here’s your how-to, courtesy of the Junior League of Tallahassee and its A Thyme to Celebrate cookbook, available for purchase (see details below).

Feta Black Bean Dip:
Serves 30

½ cup sugar
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup vegetable oil
3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 (15-ounce) cans shoe peg corn, drained and rinsed
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 (8-ounce) block feta cheese, crumbled

Whisk sugar, vinegar and oil in a large bowl. Add the black beans, corn, scallions, cilantro and cheese and mix well. Chill until serving time. Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips (Fritos Scoops are recommended).

To find this and more tried and true recipes perfect for all of life’s celebrations, purchase A Thyme to Celebrate, Tallahassee’s official cookbook. $20 each, all cookbook proceeds go to the Junior League of Tallahassee. Contact me for details!




Aunt Carol’s Killer Cornbread

This cornbread is hard to beat. It’s a hearty side or a feel-good treat! Growing up next door to my aunt and uncle, I enjoyed Aunt Carol’s recipe at many a family dinner. It’s so delicious Josh and I added it to our wedding dinner menu, serving it to more than 150 guests. (Tip for brides and grooms: consider weaving family recipes into your special day.)

This cornbread recipe’s other claim to fame is its listing in the 1990 edition of Soup to Nuts, the official cookbook of my elementary and middle school. Oh, memories!

The weather is changing ever so slightly – good enough reason to cook up a pot of chili with some Killer Cornbread on the side. Enjoy it with BBQs, soups or whenever you want to add bread with a kick to your family meal. Enjoy!

Aunt Carol’s Killer Cornbread How-to:
Cook time: ~35 minutes

1 box corn muffin mix
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs, well beaten
8 ounces creamed corn
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons chopped jalapeños (or add to taste)
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces sour cream

Mix ingredients, adding sour cream last. You don’t need to stir in sour cream entirely – just a few gentle turns for creamy swirls!

Pour mixture into baking pan (ideally, use a well-seasoned 8-inch cast iron frying pan).

Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees, or until slightly golden / an inserted toothpick comes out clean.


  • Rub 1 tablespoon of oil around inside edge of pan using a paper towel, then stick pan in the oven until temperature is ready + an additional five minutes before pouring in mixture – this will make the edges crispy.
  • Sprinkle some cheese on top when it comes out of the oven. Melty and delicious!




Mom’s Tuna Salad Recipe

Family recipes are something special. I am sure you have your own comforting and consistent favorites that bring back memories every time. One of my family favorites is mom’s tuna salad. She has not strayed from this recipe for as long as I can remember, and to this day, it is the tuna salad by which I judge all other tuna salads. When I moved into my first place, I remember calling mom multiple times to ask for the ingredients – I wanted it to taste right.

Since college and still today, mom offers to make me a sandwich for the road before I embark on the long car ride back after a family visit. She somehow always has the ingredients, and it’s always the perfect thing. Mom still makes tuna salad sandwiches better than anyone else, and I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Mom’s Tuna Salad How-to:
Serves 6

Combine Ingredients:
4 cans solid white Albacore Tuna in water
3/4 cup mayonnaise…or to taste (not Miracle Whip)
1/3 cup chopped white or yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup green bell pepper
1/3 cup pickle relish
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Cracked pepper and salt to taste

Serving suggestion: Rye bread, lettuce and sliced tomato.




Serve: Holy Mole

If you like flavor-packed meals and don’t mind a little kick, add Holy Mole to your list of slow cooker recipes. This one is a real husband-pleaser – I think Josh would eat this every day if I took the time to make it.

Adapted from one of my favorite recipes in the Crock Pot Slow Cooker Bible, “Fall-Apart Pork Roast with Mole,” Holy Mole is a little simpler and less time-consuming. This recipe is great for a Sunday night, after which leftover sauce is a tasty addition to other meals in the next day or two.

Holy Mole How-to:
Serves 4 | Cook time: ~3 hours

2/3 cup whole almonds
2/3 cup raisins
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 small chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (from a jar is just dandy)
~3 pounds of skinless boneless chicken breasts (4 large breasts)
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 slices of any bread, cubed
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 ounces dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped
3 peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (comes in a little can)
1 teaspoon salt

In a skillet, toast almonds over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add raisins, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Place half of this almond-raisin mix in your blender, and set the rest aside for garnish.

Next, add 1 tablespoon of oil to same skillet, along with chopped onion and garlic. Cook and stir about 2 minutes until softened, then add this to your blender as well. Adding to blender, drop in tomatoes (with juice), bread bits, broth, chocolate, peppers and salt, then puree the entire mixture until smooth.

Place chicken breasts in slow cooker, and poor entire blender mixture over meat. Cover and cook on high for approximately 3 hours. Remove chicken. Whisk sauce until smooth. Serve chicken over rice, spooning sauce over meat and garnishing with remaining almond-raisin mixture. Enjoy!