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Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

I bet you’re wondering what the big surprise is in our Chocolate Surprise Chocolate surprise cupcakeCupcakes, right? Drum roll, please. It’s a can of pumpkin and apple juice. Instead of adding oil to the cake mix, we use pumpkin and apple juice. The pumpkin increases the nutritional content by adding a good dose of vitamin A but it does not make the cupcakes taste like pumpkin. Sneaky, huh?

Last week my co-worker Holly shared our recipe for Pumpkin Apple Cake. Our Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes are a variation of that using a chocolate cake mix. One cake mix makes 24 cupcakes so if they won’t be eaten within four days, they freeze well in a freezer bag or other airtight container. These would be good for a birthday, bake sale, or when you just need a little chocolate!

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Let ‘em eat cake!!

Today’s post is from guest blogger, Holly Van Heel, a Human Sciences Specialist in Nutrition and Wellness at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Tpumpkin apple cakehere is nothing better than a homemade cake with frosting and sometimes you get hungry for one. But I’m never enthused about gathering all the ingredients out of the cupboard, measuring, and dirtying a bunch of dishes.

Someone in my office suggested I try the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Pumpkin Apple Cake recipe they use. I liked it right away as it uses a cake mix and just 4 other ingredients. Only two of the ingredients need to be measured!  I quickly mixed it up (cake mix, 3 eggs, 1 can pumpkin, apple juice and a little cinnamon), baked it in a bundt pan, took it to work, and shared it with my colleagues. They were surprised to learn the deliciously moist cake they were raving about had no oil or other fat added and was providing 60% of their vitamin A needs. As a bonus, when this cake bakes and cools, it makes its own light, sweet glaze.

It just supports my theory; there is nothing better than a homemade cake with frosting (or light glaze) to satisfy one’s dessert craving.

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Guiltless Pie? Count the Ways

Looking for a super easy, delicious, light, inexpensive dessert?  Just in time for Thanksgiving (and really a dessert you could eat all year long), try our Guiltless Pumpkin Pie.

It’s guiltless because:

  • No crust means fewer calories.
  • Fat free milk saves calories, but has all the nutrition.
  • One serving provides 170% of your daily Vitamin A needs. Pumpkins are one of those orange vegetables along with carrots, sweet potatoes, and other winter squash that we need about 2 cups of each week.

This would be an easy recipe for a beginning cook or a cook’s helper. You don’t even need a mixer. The trickiest thing is to make sure to use a 5-ounce can of evaporated milk (the regular size can is 12 ounces), and cook the pie until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Guiltless Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or 3/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1 5-ounce can fat free evaporated milk
  • Optional: Lowfat whipped topping and ground cinnamon.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or spray a 9-inch pie plate; set aside.
  2. Place eggs in large bowl, beat with a fork or whisk. Add sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Stir in pumpkin and evaporated milk. Pour into prepared pie plate.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes – or until center is set.
  5. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time. If desired, add a spoonful of lowfat whpped topping to each serving and sprinkle with additional ground cinnamon.

View the recipe and the video.

Winter squash or pumpkins in abundance?

My sisters, dad and I share a garden spot. We try to coordinate so that we all work in the garden at the same time because it is more fun that way, but with our schedules that doesn’t happen very often. This spring when we were planting, a couple of times someone planted over the top of something that was already in the ground (this is why we had peppers growing in the bean rows). I was determined to have some winter squash, so I planted a whole row of seeds about 3” apart and put milk cartons filled with water every foot to mark the row. To make a long story short, I didn’t thin the plants, so the squash took over a corner of the garden and now we have lots of acorn squash. If you have an abundance of winter squash or pumpkins, here are some helps:

-pointers by Peggy