Baking: A Study in Contrasts

I'm a (former) baking addict. I own both The Cake Bible and The Bread Bible along with the book I actually consider to be my baking bible, The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. I even won a ribbon in high school for a cake I entered in the Topsfield Fair. But in a health-conscious, mostly grain-free world they don't get dusted off quite like they used to and I have to admit that I miss it. I dabble in paleo/gluten-free/grain-free baking on occasion and it's all fine and dandy in a curiously-interesting-yet-nervewracking way, where the rules you're used to don't apply anymore. Everything turns out delicious of course, the journey just looks different and you're less sure of your footing. I can't rationalize baking a "real" cake for myself on whim nowadays but a-ha! There's this little thing at the end of the year called the holidays and now suddenly, with other people in mind I can get down n' dirty with some gluten-filled flour for a change. browniesI prepped myself with some peanut butter cookie dough brownies for my Secret Santa at work. I followed this recipe for the concept and the pb cookie dough top, but used Smitten Kitchen's brownie recipe for the base. I winged the topping a little bit--more peanut butter, less flour, only brown sugar, and so on. Tasty tasty stuff! I labored on something else this weekend but that has yet to be revealed...

Then on the other side of the spectrum we have....protein pumpkin pie?!

pieAs part of my exercises in non-traditional baking I've also been researching baking with protein powder. I've made protein powder pancakes before (which are darn good!) but wanted to stretch my wings further while also making a fun, festive post-workout snack. It's good! The texture is different from regular pumpkin pie though.

Protein Pumpkin Pie (slightly adapted from Anna Sward)


  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp honey


  • 200g pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup whey protein powder
  • liquid stevia and spices to taste

Combine ingredients for crust and press into bottom of a pie pan. Bake at 360° for 10-15 minutes (essentially par-baking the crust.) Blend filling ingredients together in a food processor or blender then pour over the crust. Bake at 320° for 45-50 minutes or until filling is just set. (I did mine for 45 and it was already overdone, so I'd check earlier and frequently.) Sliced into 8 equal pieces, a slice is approx. 155 calories, 9.5g carbs/9g fat/10.5g protein.

Liquid Breakfast

I'm ashamed to admit that my blender has been broken for over a year out of pure laziness--but no longer! (It needed a new blade which involved tracking down the right part for a model number that wasn't listed anywhere on the blender or the manual...#FWP.) Now whenever I get tired of my usual ol' eggs + something else breakfast routine I can make myself a cold refreshing glass of calories:

smoothieTo be drunk out of a beer glass for ultimate classiness, of course!

I am pro-smoothie when they're done right. A fruit+fruit juice base is a sneaky sugar bomb and does nothing to keep one full until lunchtime. With only a few trial runs I managed to get my favorite formula down pat and I can dress it up as I please with different flavors--easy breezy smoothie girl?

Emma's Anytime Smoothie Base

  • 1 serving protein powder (preferably where one serving=20-30g of protein)
  • 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp natural unsweetened nut butter (add 2 for extra calories)
  • approx 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (I add all other ingredients and then fill with almond milk til the 16oz line on the side of my blender)
  • 1 tsp psyllium husk powder (optional, if you need more fiber)

Here are a few of my favorite combinations!

PB Banana Chocolate: Base plus 1 small frozen banana (in pieces), use peanut butter for the nut butter, 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder. If the banana alone isn't sweet enough, you can add stevia or the sweetener of your choice. Added sweetener or sweetened protein powder/nut butter/almond milk etc will change the total calories and sugar. Breakdown: Approx 436 calories, 30g carb/30g protein/23g fat.

Blueberry Almond Butter (pictured): Base plus 1 cup frozen blueberries, almond butter as the nut butter, sprinkle of cinnamon. Breakdown: Approx 415 calories, 28g carb/27g protein/23g fat.

PB & Strawberry "Jelly": Base plus 1 cup frozen strawberries, PB as nut butter, sprinkle of cinnamon. Breakdown: Approx 403 calories, 22g carb/29g protein/22g fat.

Pretty much any fruit with your choice of nut butter is win. I buy already frozen berries but chop and freeze fresh bananas myself. I've found that a standard can of coconut milk has enough for 4-5 smoothies in it, but if you don't want to have multiple smoothies in a week you can use it up in other recipes. And if you don't use whey protein powder, these smoothies are dairy-free and vegan!

Are you a smoothie devotee? What's your winning recipe?