Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Squares (SRC)

Oh me, oh my. These squares are quite heavenly. I made a double batch – one for myself and one for a fellow gluten-free employee for her birthday. I blame it on my sweet tooth but I couldn’t bear only having one test square for myself 🙂

These indulgent bars were a result of an adaptation from this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment! I was given Flying on Jess Fuel for the month of October and had a blast getting acquainted with this spunky newlywed (best wishes!) and all her delicious food and adventures.

With so many recipes for me to choose from, I turned to an employee for a little assistance on what to make this month. I asked what her favorite dessert was and she said cheesecake. I then looked up to see if miss Jess had anything cheesecake related on her blog and look what I found…M&M Cheesecake Squares!

As usual, I changed a few things and lightened things up a bit, I can’t help it 🙂 While I know a “birthday treat” is a once a year occasion, I was also trying to show said employee how I adapt non-gluten free recipes to fit my dietary needs so here goes.

For the crust/crumble, I substituted my own gluten-free flour blend for the regular flour, erythritol for the brown sugar, added a bit of stevia, used real butter for the margarine and used almonds for the walnuts. Jess mentioned that she loved the filling and recommended doubling it so that’s what I did! I doubled the cream cheese filling using the 1/3 less fat version and used sucanat and stevia for the sweetener. Instead of M&M’s, I substituted dark chocolate chips…while I could’ve purchased Sunspire Dark Chocolate SunDrops for a healthier M&M, I already had chocolate chips on hand so I used those in it’s place!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Squares (adapted from Flying on Jess Fuel)

For Crust and Crumble
1/3 cup butter, ghee (or Earth Balance or coconut oil for dairy free) room temperature
1/4 cup erythritol (or 1/3 cup granulated sweetener of choice and omit stevia)
1/16 tsp pure stevia powder (or to taste)
1/2 cup almonds, pulsed in a food processor (any nut will do)
1 cup gluten free flour blend (I used 1/3 cup tapioca, 1/3 cup almond meal, 1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour)

For Filling
2 (8 oz) packages 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature (use dairy-free if needed)
1/3 cup sucanat or other granulated sweetener
1/8th tsp pure stevia (or to taste or add a few more Tbsp of sweetener)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 loaf pans OR one 8×8 pan with parchment paper or grease well and set aside.
2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter/ghee/Earth Balance and erythritol until light and fluffy. Add the stevia, almonds, and flour and mix until crumbly.
3. Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture and set aside. Divide the remaining crust mixture and press into the bottom of the prepared loaf pans OR into the bottom of the one 8″ square pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, sugar, stevia and vanilla, and using an electric mixer again, mix at medium speed until well blended. (I didn’t even bother cleaning the mixer in between the two steps).
5. Add the eggs and continue mixing until combined.
6. Layer 1/2 of the chocolate chips over the crust. Top with the cream cheese mixture and spread evenly.
7. Top with remaining chocolate chips and sprinkle with reserved crust/crumble.
8. Bake for an additional 25-27 minutes until set. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.


Black Cherry Rice “Stuffed” Kabocha Squash

Is any else still on a winter squash kick? I am waiting for my skin to turn orange from all the winter squash I’ve been eating at breakfast/lunch/dinner/dessert.

Example: Here’s yesterday’s eats with all my squash obsession…

Breakfast Parfait: plain Greek yogurt layered with pumpkin puree that is mixed with ground cinnamon, chopped walnuts, cinnamon Puffins cereal and a drizzle of honey

Lunch: Baked Butternut Squash Fries alongside a bunless bison burger topped with guacamole and sliced tomatoes

Dinner: This Black Cherry Rice “Stuffed” Kabocha Squash (recipe below)!

Dessert: Grain-free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (recipe to come)

When Fall hits, I have a solid 4 months of squash lovin’ so I don’t intend on letting up anytime soon. I promise to keep the recipes to a minimum though, I won’t go overboard on the orange stuff as I assume some of you would like a little variety 🙂

Now onto today’s recipe!

While I could eat easily cooked kabocha plain, I whipped up a “stuffing” for a more complete dinner in an attempt to use up leftover rice. Yet, if you are on a squash hiatus, this rice “stuffing” would still be delicious as a side dish.

Sweet dried cherries and sauteed onions compliment the nutty brown rice and pepitas seeds beautifully. I tossed in a large handful of leafy spinach for added color and a nutritional punch so any leafy green can used in it’s place if desired.

Black Cherry Rice “Stuffed” Squash


For squash
1 medium kabocha squash, cut into quarters, deseeded or 2 acorn squash, halved and deseeded
Earth balance, olive oil, coconut oil, butter or ghee for brushing
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For stuffing
3 tsp coconut oil, butter, ghee or Earth Balance, divided
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice (white rice, wild rice, millet or quinoa can be substituted)*
1/3 cup unsweetened or juice-sweetened dried black cherries (dried bing cherries or dried cranberries can be used)
1 large handful fresh baby spinach or other leafy green (ex. kale or chard)
2-3 Tbsp pepita seeds, raw or lightly toasted (or other seeds or nuts)
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste


1. To bake squash, preheat oven to 375F. Brush the squash quarters with olive oil/melted butter/Earth Balance, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and place cut sides down in a lightly greased baking dish. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until flesh is soft to the touch.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tsp oil/butter/Earth Balance over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 6 to 7 minutes until soft, stirring often. Add garlic cloves and saute for another 2 minutes until fragrant. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Add remaining 1 tsp oil, rice and cherries to the pan and saute rice for 2 minutes stirring frequently.
4. Add in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1-2 minutes.
5. Stir in pepitas, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
6. To serve, divide “stuffing” amongst cooked squash quarters and enjoy!

Serves 4

*If you cook your rice (or other grain) in vegetable stock, it gives this dish an additional flavor boost!

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have been in quite the soup mood lately. I’m blaming it on the rainy, cold and windy weather.

All I want is to be bundled up on the couch with a blanket and a giant bowl of soup — with this chipotle chicken tortilla soup to be exact. It’s delicious, warms you to the core and fills you up!

Mmmmm comfort in a bowl 🙂

This soup can be made on the stove top or on in the Crockpot for an easy meal that will be ready when you get home after a long day. I opted for the quicker stovetop version made with a store-bought rotisserie chicken for an easy weeknight meal that made for scrumptious leftovers for lunch too!

I even made my own tortilla strips for an extra special touch! If you want a quicker route, you can easily substitute tortilla chips.

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup (adapted from


1/2 Tbsp olive oil, ghee, butter, or canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 small onion, diced
4 tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
6 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth (one 48 oz carton)
8 oz gluten free red chile enchilada sauce (I used All-Natural Frontera Red Chile*)
1 (15 oz) can no-salt added diced tomatoes
4 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 can diced fire-roasted green chiles (or regular)
1 15-oz can no salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup yellow corn kernels, frozen (or no salted added canned, rinsed and drained)

For Topping/Garnish

Shredded monterrey jack and cheddar cheese (omit for dairy free)
1 avocado, diced
Cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges (this brightens the flavors! I wouldn’t leave this out)
6 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4 inch strips OR gluten free tortilla chips, crushed
Coconut oil or olive oil for sauteeing and sea salt (omit if buying chips)


1. In a large soup pot, add oil/butter over medium heat. Add garlic, jalapeno, and onion and saute for 2 minutes stirring frequently.
2. Add spices and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant and pepper and onion are fully coated.
3. Add remaining ingredients (stock/broth through corn) and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes then reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld (60 minutes is recommended).
4. Meanwhile, (if you are making homemade tortilla strips) heat 1/2 tsp of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a handful of strips at a time and cook stirring frequently until crisp like a chip, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt remove from pan. Repeat with remaining strips.
5. Serve soup in bowls and garnish with avocado, cheese (if desired), a squeeze of lime, tortilla strips and a sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!

Serves 6

*If you don’t have enchilada sauce, you can always substitute tomato sauce but the flavor will be altered

Recipes Notes: If you (or the kiddos in your family) don’t like texture or certain vegetables in your soup, puree the tomatoes, green chiles and onions with a bit of the stock/broth for a smoother base 🙂

For a crock-pot preparation, throw all of the ingredients except for the garnishes into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

High Protein Oatmeal Pancakes with Mixed Berry Chia Jam

Sunday mornings and big breakfasts go hand-in-hand in my world. Pancakes and waffles remind me of lazy weekend mornings…and because I slept in this morning, pancakes were on my to-do list when I woke up 🙂

I also had a bag of mixed berries in the freezer so I made some berry chia jam to top off this stack of my favorite pancakes. Not only do these pancakes have fiber from the gluten free oats and (optional) flax, they are protein-packed from the cottage cheese for extra staying power! I’ve made them before with my Peach Poppyseed variety but this time I went a more basic route since I was adding a bunch of berry goodness on top!

I went through a long phase growing up where I preferred jelly/jam on my pancakes over maple syrup. When I look back, I pinpointed the issue: soggy pancakes! I never ate my pancakes fast enough because I was a chatty kid at the breakfast table. No more soggy cakes for me though! To this day, my remedy is to serve my syrup on the side 🙂

Feel free to add more sweetener if this jam is a little too tart for your taste. You can use this jam on toast, in your PB &J sandwiches, stirred into oatmeal, or smeared onto anything your little heart desires 🙂

High Protein Oatmeal Pancakes (adapted from my Peach Poppyseed Cottage Cheese Pancakes)


1/2 cup gluten free oats
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk (or other milk works fine too)
1 tsp honey, agave or maple syrup (or stevia to taste)
1/2 tbsp flaxseed meal (optional for added nutrition)
1/2 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional but I love the flavor)
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil, butter, ghee or other oil for pan (or cooking spray if preferred)

Optional add-ins:  1-2 tablespoons fruit of choice, chopped nuts, seeds, chocolate chips

For serving
Mixed Berry Chia Jam (recipe below)
Fresh blueberries or other berry
Coconut butter


1.  Heat griddle or large frying pan over medium-low heat.
2. In a blender (I use the individual serving Cuisinart here) or small food processor, add oats and pulse until resembles a flour. Add ingredients (cottage cheese through extract) and blend until well combined. Stir in add-ins if using at this time.
3. Add oil or butter to pan until melted. A couple tablespoons at a time, add batter to the pan and cook golden brown on the bottom and there are a few bubbles on the surface. Flip and cook another 2 minutes or so until golden brown.
4. Garnish with berry chia jam, coconut butter and/or your favorite pancake topping (more butter, maple syrup, honey, applesauce, fruit compote, coconut butter etc) and serve!!!

Makes 6-8 small/medium pancakes, serves one hungry person (me after my workout) or 2 small portions
Recipe can be doubled or tripled if needed 🙂

Mixed Berry Chia Jam (adapted from Oh-she-glows)

3 cups mixed berries, frozen or fresh (I used the assorted frozen from Costco)
2 Tbsp honey, agave or maple syrup (or more to taste, do not use honey if strict vegan)
1 Tbsp coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 1/2 Tbsp chia meal/flour (ground chia seeds OR use 2 Tbsp chia seeds)
4-5 drops of liquid stevia (or to taste)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


1. In a medium-sized non-stick pot, bring the berries, liquid sweetener and coconut milk to a low boil.  Stir frequently, and reduce heat to low-medium to simmer for about 5 minutes.  Mash the berries with a potato masher or fork, leaving some for texture if desired.

2. Stir in the chia until thoroughly combined and cook the mixture down until it thickens to your desired consistency, or about 15 minutes.  Stir frequently so it doesn’t stick to the pot.

3. Once the jam is thick, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and stevia.  Add more sweetener to taste if desired.  The jam should keep for at least a week in an air-tight container in the fridge.

*If you want a smoother texture, you can puree the jam in a food processor liked I did. Next time I will leave it more chunky for added texture…plus it’s one less thing I have to clean up!