I often skip making desserts as I don’t like spending extra time making foods that don’t support a healthy lifestyle. However, desserts are totally part of a healthy lifestyle! And you can modify recipes so the desserts are healthier. I spend more time cooking food than making desserts, but I wanted to share the few desserts I do make, even if they are not made regularly.

All Natural Organic Sugar Cookies with Icing | No Artificial Colors

These were surprisingly easy to make and you can make these cookies and icing with no special tools or ingredients. I rummaged through the fridge and cabinets sourcing ingredients I could use to color the icing which was simply a mixture of 1/2 cup of powdered sugar with 1/2-3/4 teaspoons of water. I settled on pomegranate juice for the deep pink/maroon, raspberry puree (from a single smushed fresh raspberry), turmeric and saffron for the yellows and chlorophyll from my supplements for the green. I also mixed vanilla for a light tan color and left one plain white with nothing added.

The recipe is just as easy and requires no special mixing bowls or tools and you don’t even need cookie cutters for these ‘full moon’ cookies. The first several times I made these I mixed flour, eggs, sugar and butter together without measuring or mixing dry into wet ingredients. They turned out great but in the spirit of sharing this recipe with you, I altered a Martha Stewart sugar cookie recipe. While her recipe calls for a single egg, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, salt and brandy, mine is simply 2 cups of organic flour 3/4 cup of organic sugar, 2 pasture raised eggs, 1/2 cup of organic butter (though this time I used a new butter I found that has a cultured butter taste), and a teaspoon and a half of non-alcoholic organic vanilla. This makes about 2 dozen cookies. I also used some Watkins all natural sprinkles for a new of the smaller cookies. Mix the sugar, melted butter, vanilla and eggs together. Add in flour a little at a time. Refrigerate dough for a firmer dough or roll it out on a flat surface with flour. Use a cup or cookie cutter to form shapes. Release cookies with a metal spatula and put them on a baking tray with our without parchment paper. Bake for 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees. Once cooled you can add a dollop of icing and a sprinkle of sprinkles. Let sit and set all the way before stacking. Best eaten within 1-2 days. I used less sugar which means the cookies weren’t as sweet, but because the icing was just sugar, I felt okay doing it this way. They are more like biscuits in their sweetness, but with the icing, I think they are okay. You may add about 1/4 of sugar to make them sweeter.

*Update on how the icing tastes: the icing with the saffron does impart a slight flavor. Also, it’s possible the saffron (being that it’s ground and not loose filaments) may be contaminated with dye. **Update on sugar content. My friends said they prefer the sugar content in these cookies because they like to enjoy them with tea and these had a nice balance of sweet to go with their tea. Plus it means less sugar for the kiddos which is always a good thing in my opinion.

Crescent Cookies

Graham Cracker Masjid

You can assemble simple project with ingredients you can find at a local grocery store. Of course you can make it from scratch as well. I found that even with store bought graham crackers, meringues and wafers assembling and decorating took a big chunk of time. We also made crescent and star cookies with some icing I made that didn’t work (not shown in the video). This festive project brings joy to my children and creates deep loving memories for Ramadan. Of course you could do this project anytime of year. This project and 28 more can be found in my Ramadan Blessings in a Box project that is part of the Ramadan Bundle which is on sale now! The bundle includes 8 projects I made for my children and their friends that we have been enjoying over the years. The product is digital and the activities are simple. All you need is some basic office supplies.

For this Graham Cracker Masjid, all you need is a box of graham crackers, some wafer cookies for the minarets, white chocolate chips for decorations on the top of the minaret, meringue cookies (large) for the dome of the masjid and some powdered sugar to make the icing and ‘glue’. Mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with a tablespoon of water. You want the consistency of the icing to be smooth but not to watery. The thicker the better for ‘glue’ and a bit more watery works well for icing. Go slowly with the water. It’s easy to add too much. I did so when I was mixing the chocolate icing. Snap graham crackers in half. If you want to decorate the sides of the masjid, do it before assembling it. Add icing to five graham cracker halves. Add sprinkles or chocolate chunks. Or leave it simple with icing and powdered sugar. Add icing to the edges of the graham crackers and hold for a minute until set. Add roof and dome with icing. Add minarets to the front or all four points. Hold in place until icing is set. Let it set and dry completely before moving them off the wax paper.

Banana Coconut Fritters

This delicious dessert is sure to impress you. It’s simple with ingredients that are readily available. We got this recipe from the book Senegal by Pierre Thiam. We are using this book as part of our West Africa unit for homeschool. We love to include regional, cultural and when possible, historical foods. This book offers all of that. It’s a breathtaking journey through Senegal, the people, the food and the culture. You learn about culturally religious foods and celebrations, and in the process you learn what is important to the Senegalese people. This cookbook is more than a cookbook, it’s an experience. We’ve made a couple recipes from this book and we aim to do more. We weren’t sure how we were going to like this dessert, so I halved the recipe. That was a mistake! It was so delicious, I made it again the following day. We made a few alterations to the recipe, as a Muslim family, we did not add rum to the batter. We also didn’t let it sit for an hour as directed. We were too impatient! I used avocado oil and a sauce pan for frying. Even without the right equipment, you can achieve success with this recipe. I also didn’t have the right kind of shredded coconut, so we took our slivered coconut and pulsed them in the NutriBullet until they were flour consistency. That mixed well with the flour, which was white wheat flour and not millet flour as I didn’t have that on hand. Since the coconut was sweetened, I put less sugar in the batter. That too was a mistake as the batter could have used more sugar. After gently frying the banana fritters a few at a time, I placed them on a paper towel and dusted them with powdered sugar. I paired them with some vanilla ice cream, but I think coconut ice cream would have been even better!

The Best Fruit Scones

Even if you’re not a baker or have never made scones before, you must try these!! They are a family and friend favorite! I have altered the original recipe which calls for blueberries and use nectarines or peaches. This has become a summer tradition. My friends literally can’t wait till it’s peach season. I serve these with butter and honey and a cup of hot chai. A tasty alternative is to bake them plain, which is the way my children prefer them, and cut them in half and fill them with whipped cream and fresh fruit! You won’t be disappointed.

I have my friend Teyebeh to thank for this recipe. She’s my food inspiration for many of our family favorite meals. She got the recipe online years ago, but since then, we have both taken liberties with the recipe.

My recipe is as follows: 3 cups flour 3/4 cups brown sugar (less if you’re using white sugar) 2 teaspoons baking powder 1.5 sticks of cold butter 1/5 cups buttermilk 2 peaches (hard, ripe ones will add too much moisture and won’t hold their shape)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Cut in butter. Add fruit and gentle mix in buttermilk. Shape into wedges or rounds and place on a buttered or parchment lined baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool before topping with whipped cream and fresh fruit, but serve hot if you’re topping them with butter and honey. Serve with tea. Tip: Reduce buttermilk if the fruit is moist.

Cardamom Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Cardamom Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chunk Cookies, that’s a mouthful! And these cookies are worth it. I love how unique they are, for me that is, as we settle into sugar cookies, chocolate chip or white chocolate chip cocoa cookies. This cookie recipe is is full of flavor and seldom used ingredients. I would suggest omitting ingredients you don’t have or substituting as I did. I used raisins rather than golden raisins and chocolate chunks from a Swiss bar of chocolate with almonds rather than chocolate chips. I would try to source good quality cardamom. I got mine on a trip to Dubai and shelled dozens of cardamom pods and ground it myself so the flavor of the cardamom was strong and amazing, but not stronger than the cinnamon which overpowered the other flavors. I’m using the book Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn, and the recipe is in the dessert section titled Cardamom Oatmeal Cookies.

Recipe: Warm two sticks of butter until lightly brown. Add 1 cup of raisins, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom, 1-2 teaspoons of molasses, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla paste or powder, and 1 cup of brown sugar. In a separate bowl, beat two eggs lightly. In another bowl combine 2 cups of oats and 4-6 ounces of chocolate chips or chocolate chunks with almonds. In a third bowl, sift 1.5 cups of flour. Remove butter mixture from stove and let it cool a bit. Add eggs and combine well using fork or spoon. Slowly add flour 1/3 cup at a time until incorporated. Add oats with chocolate. Refrigerate for 6 hours. Add 6 1-inch balls to a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool before serving. Best with coconut or pistachio ice cream.

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