Oct 14

Highlights of Venice and Greece

Natural Sweet Recipes

I just returned from Europe earlier this week with my husband and after being away so long, I started thinking about what recipe to make/post next. But to be honest, after a week and a half in Venice and the Greek Isles, I still can’t think of anything else! We had such a great time that instead of a recipe, here’s my trip in pictures (and since we are talking about Europe, don’t worry, some food is involved).

City of Venice

Venice Italy

My husband Travis and I started off in Venice, Italy, where after spending a brief afternoon, boarded a cruise ship headed for the ports of Mykonos, Corfu, Santorini and Olympia, Greece.

Mykonos is a pretty beach town with a “little Venice” coast, pretty windmills and beautiful beaches! We also spent some good quality time at a local restaurant enjoying stuffed grilled peppers with salty feta, fresh tomatoes and olives and the best tzatziki we’ve ever had.

Mykonos Greece


Corfu is another charming beach town that has a quaint “old town” feeling. This day was  super stormy and rainy so we didn’t see a lot. But we finished the trip with amazing Greek salads, pizza and according to my husband, “the best souvlaki” that made it all worth it.

Corfu Greece

Santorini was perfect. It’s a beautiful haven.

oia pictures

Santorini Greece

The most iconic spot on Santorni is Oia, a darling town built on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. A day in Oia is best spent wandering and then finding a great spot to view the sunset.

santorini greece

For our sunset view, we found the most delicious restaurant called Fanari Restaurant. It’s right on the edge of the town that is apart of a hotel.

Natural Sweet Recipes Travels

Make sure to order an appetizer like the zucchini tart. It was beautiful and delicious! Then take your time and enjoy the view. The ambiance may be the best thing about this restaurant.

Greek Food Oia Sunset Sunset in Oia

Once the sun is down, the city turns into something else entirely. It’s magic!

Greek Travels

Our last island was Olympia, and although not as beautiful as Oia, totally fascinating. Olympia is the birthplace of the Olympic Games .

olympia olympia greece

After Olympia, we headed back to Venice.

Natural Sweet Recipes

Venice is a pretty small city, but there’s a lot of interesting things to do and see.  It has got to be one of the most romantic cities in the world.

We stayed at a great hotel near the Grand Canal. The rooms were really spacious with excellent service and the location was perfect.

Venice Hotel

The city is so much fun to walk around in. There are interesting galleys, corridors and buildings everywhere you turn.

Venice Square


We ended our trip with a Gondola ride at sunset. This is one of the best ways to see the Grand Canal but is also an interesting mini tour of the floating city.

venice ride

Gondola rides become a bit more expensive past 7 o’clock for the more “romantic” feel, but it’s totally best to start them before 7 so there is enough light for picture taking. Starting around sunset is perfect so you get the best of both worlds.

Venice at Night

Venice and the Greek Isles are two places definitely worth seeing. The two areas were the perfect mix of sightseeing, culture, history, leisure and food. We’ll be dreaming of when we can go back.

If you’ve been to Venice or Greece, what are your favorite spots? What things did you do? We’d love to hear about what you loved most!

Oct 14

Guest Post from Needs Salt

Dear Readers, 

We’re halfway into October. It feels like we’ve missed something. Is it really almost Halloween? Our main blogger (Annie) has been traveling in Europe for the past 11 days. As she catches her breath (including working on an exciting post to recap her travels) we’ve asked Abbie at Needs Salt to share one of her incredible recipes with you all. We were sooo lucky when she agreed and we are bouncing with excitement over her post. Her blog is all about beautiful, delicious and above all – healthy recipes and we’re so grateful to have her here today! Thanks, Abbie!

Okay, so I am super excited today for obvious reasons. First I want to say a big giant thank you to Holly, Annie and Chelsea for having me guest post today! I love their blog, Natural Sweet Recipes. There aren’t many blogs like this one out there – real, wholesome and healthy food for normal people. No freaky ingredients that one must day trip to the nearest metropolis to hunt down. I love all the recipes these brilliant sisters post and wish I could try them all! Okay, so let’s talk about doughnuts.

I have to admit, I was sort of hesitant to break out the first can of pumpkin this year. I feel like summer should’ve lasted longer. Yes, things like cinnamon and nutmeg and apples and molasses are lovely – but can’t we incorporate them into ice cream? Or something? I’m sure we can and we have. But you don’t really crave ice cream on foggy sub 50′s mornings when you wish you could quite literally crawl into your cup of coffee. (<true feelings, experienced.) No, sadly. Why does it ever have to get cold? Why? I just… I won’t talk about this. It’s another blog post for another day, if you ever feel like reading me rant about such pointless droll most often induced by cupcakes or the lack thereof. I will embrace fall and every lovely spice and somehow make it include doughnuts.

donut recipe

healthy donuts

So as you have probably already guessed, these pumpkin spice cake doughnuts are baked (in a doughnut pan! brilliant invention – best investment ever.) and are also pretty much the best curl up on the couch and sip tea/coffee/cocoa/whatever warms your soul (no cliches intended) sweet snack. If you’re only going to make one pumpkin thing this season (um, who are you.) then let me please convince you to make these doughnuts. They’re warmly spiced (with TONS of autumn spices,) mildly sweet (hello innocent breakfast,) perfectly moist but perfectly light and cake-like, gluten-free (WHAT? WHERE?) and dairy-free. And then the almond maple glaze (oh my) is another story. Sticky and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup (which is THE BOMB. right after pink Himalayan salt.) you’re gonna want to drizzle this stuff over everything. Including doughnuts, including hands. Maybe not kale. Okay you guys I’m having way too much fun over here.

Can I tell you one more thing about these doughnuts? I sort of made a double batch and they were sort of all devoured in less than 24 hours. I think that sort of speaks for itself. (Do you think I overuse this phrase? Sort of? I don’t know either.) Make these doughnuts. You’ll be insanely glad you did.


gluten-free pumpkin spice cake doughnuts with almond maple glaze + pink salt

For the doughnuts:
1/2 cup oat flour (or all-purpose gluten-free flour)
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (organic can sugar)
1/4 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pink salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch of ground cloves
1 large egg, room temperature*
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or coconut milk)
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (flax meal)
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (or another neutral oil)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
powdered sugar and cinnamon, for serving (optional)

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray doughnut pan with cooking spray; set aside.

For the doughnuts:
In a large mixing bowl, combine oat flour, white rice flour, cane sugar, almond meal, baking powder, salt and all the spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, ground flax seed, milk, pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil, applesauce and vanilla extract. Whisk until everything looks smooth and incorporated.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until everything is combined and no dry flour remains. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Do not overmix.

Spoon batter into the cavities of the doughnut pan, filling them almost entirely up to the top, with just a fraction of a space remaining. This will lend fluffy, authentic-looking doughnuts. Bake doughnuts in preheated 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, or until slightly golden brown and springy. A toothpick inserted into the center of a doughnut should come out clean, with just a few tiny crumbs on it. Allow doughnuts to cool for 5 minutes in pan before gently releasing them from the cavities with a thin spatula. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely before adding glaze.

For the glaze:
In a small jar, stir together all ingredients for the glaze until smooth. Add more almond milk for a thinner consistency. Drizzle glaze on doughnuts and devour.

*To quickly bring an egg to room temperature, gently place it in a bowl and cover with warm water; let it hang out while you prepare everything else.

Recipe just slightly adapted from Ashley McLaughlin’s book, <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Baked Doughnuts for Everyone</a>——–

Thank you again for having me, Holly, Annie and Chelsea! It was a total pleasure.

Oct 14

Healthy Homemade Snickers

homemade snickers

What would you do for a healthy Snickers bar???

If you love chewy caramel and dense nougat layers and rich chocolate with that perfect crunch of peanuts, you are in the right place. If you asked us what we’d do for a healthy Snickers, you’d probably learn just how dedicated we are to desserts! However, we’re not going to ask much of you for these candy bars. They are healthy but there isn’t a lot to them! You won’t need to schedule out 3 hours, a babysitter and buy special candy equipment to make these!

A few Octobers ago, we had literally just made our blog public and we wanted a “wow” recipe to kick-start our little project. Our dad is obsessed with Snickers so we could just imagine what he’d say if we showed him sugar-free Snicker candy bars! We tried a recipe for Snickers and it didn’t turn out so pretty. We remedied the situation with just-like-Dairy-Queen Blizzards that tasted amazing! We loved that treat, but a genuine homemade Snickers recipe still lurked in the back of our minds.

homemade snicker recipe

Now here we are today with these genuine tasting HEALTHY Snickers! Our problem the first time may have been we were over thinking it! We’ve simplified this recipe to be easier and healthier! Now, it’s not a lot to ask of yourself to make these delicious candy bars. The results will surely keep you feeling great while feeding any Halloween candy craving!

Healthy Homemade Snickers Bars (gluten-free and vegan)
Print Recipe

Chocolate Base :
1 1/3 cups Sugar-Free, Vegan Dark Chocolate Chips, melted

Line a 9 x 11 inch baking dish with parchment paper so that some hangs off the sides.  Spread the melted chocolate on the base of the pan and set in the freezer.

Nougat Layer:
1/3 cup Coconut Butter
2 tablespoons Full Fat Coconut Milk
½ cup Maple Syrup or Agave
¼ cup Natural, Creamy Salted Peanut Butter
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
1 cup Roasted Peanuts

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the coconut butter, milk, sweetener and peanut butter. Mix until totally smooth. You can beat with beaters if coconut butter or peanut butter is too firm. Add the vanilla. Mix in the flour until totally smooth. The filling should be like a shiny play-dough, but not super sticky! Add an extra tablespoon of rice flour or coconut milk to reach this consistency. Spread onto the hard chocolate base. Sprinkle the peanuts over the nougat layer and very gently pat. Return to the freezer.

Caramel:  ** See Note Below **
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1½ cups Coconut Sugar
¼ cup Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoons Water
1½ Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

In a small heat safe bowl, combine the coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup and water together. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes, stirring every 10 seconds. The mixture will bubble up in between heatings. That’s okay, just keep stirring and heating.  After the 2 minutes, stir in vanilla. The caramel should be a creamy caramel sauce. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the fridge. Pour the cooled caramel over the chilled nougat filling and return to the freezer.

Chocolate Topping:
1 1/3 cup Vegan Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate Chips, melted

When the caramel filing has firmed, pour the melted chocolate topping over the caramel. Return to the freezer for another 10-15 minutes, or until the chocolate has set. It’s easiest to cut these when they are chilled but not frozen. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer – they are delicious frozen!

**Caramel Notes**

-This caramel sauce can be made on the stove if desired.

- We made this recipe the first time by tripling our raw caramel sauce. It did not yield a true Snickers flavor, however, it tasted good and can be used in place of the above caramel sauce recipe for a healthier bar if desired.


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