Reader’s Request: Fitnessista-fying Meals

Hey guys! How’s your day been??

I was a wild child and left the house today 🙂 Sniffling and disheveled, I hit up the smoothie place

juice  (carrot, apple, beet, ginjah)

Target (where I had an impromptu conference call- with beeping price guns in the background and half a voice– klassy)

TJ Maxx

and Publix.

Two *get well soon* purchases:


Vick’s baby rub (it smells like Eucalyptus and mint, and makes me not quite so congested) and Cold tea 😀

For lunch, all I wanted was fresh fruit


(my first grapefruit EVER! I liked it :D  )

and a cherry bomb diggity.

cherry bomb

So since I’ve received a few questions on how to health-ify meals, I thought it would be a great topic for a reader’s request post. Today we’re focusing on dessert 🙂

A little note: When I Fitnessista-fy a recipe, it’s usually for an everyday kind of meal or treat. The idea is to create the meal according to what I like to eat, without sacrificing the integrity or flavor of the dish. If we have company over or it’s a once-in-a-while kinda thing, I’ll make the meal as it’s intended to be prepared, with minor changes (like using goat cheese instead of cow’s, whole grain starch instead of white and the like) or prepare a meal that is healthy and just happens to taste fabulous. Or I’ll make something that isn’t considered health food at all.. but needs to be eaten on an occasional basis.


When it comes to dessert and we’re having company over, my philosophy is "don’t mess with dessert.” It needs to taste amazing. Back in the day, I  once made Splenda apple crumble for company…and it was kind of a disaster 😉

For everyday, healthier treats I’ll mess with them as much as I like 🙂 The key here is to use a lot of flavor and really good ingredients.

Here’s an example:

Carrot Cake Cookies

caarrot cake cookies

The recipe I played with can be found *here*

So when it comes to dessert, I’ll look at three things:

1. Flour- the flour can almost always be swapped out. Spelt is usually my go-to flour

2. Fat- How can I reduce the fat in the recipe without drying it out?

3. Sugar– What would be a good option instead of white sugar?

For this particular recipe, they called for white flour. Easy peasy—spelt instead.


(I always weigh flour for baking- it helps ensure that there aren’t any snafus)

For the fat, this recipe called for a stick of butter (1/2 C). Instead of that, I used a single serving of pear sauce + 1 T canola oil

pear sauce

(Other great fat substitutes are apple sauce and plain nonfat yogurt- I usually like to add a little oil or butter, too, to make sure moisture isn’t lost)

Instead of using an egg –I thought it would be fun to make these vegan- I would usually use a flax egg (1 T flax mixed with 3 T water). Since there was already a high water content from the pear sauce, I rolled with 1 T flax dissolved in 2 T water

As far as sugar goes, I rolled with 1/3 C Sucanat (unrefined brown sugar- it has a lovely deep flavor) and 1 chopped medjool date (nature’s caramel, just to give a little extra sweetness and flavor)

51tfgcnYXOL._SL500_AA300_PIbundle-12,TopRight,0,0_AA300_SH20_ Source

Mix, mix, mix


+ flour

Baked for 10 min at 350 (on a greased cookie sheet)

caarrot cake cookies

I had two 😀


These came out much better than I expected. They’re not super sweet, but still have a fabulous deep flavor. I think this is due to the Sucanat, the fact that I used fresh-ground cinnamon (I grind it in the coffee grinder) and William’s Sonoma vanilla.

I didn’t have stuff on hand to make icing, but I think they taste wonderful without. If you’d like to do icing, I’d probably use Earth Balance + powdered sugar + a little nutritional yeast for a “cream cheese” style icing.

So, would this be considered my recipe??

I don’t think so. If I would have stumbled into the kitchen with an idea in my brain to make carrot cake cookies and gone on a whim, it would definitely be my recipe. Since I had my computer in the kitchen with me, I’d call that a no 🙂

carrot cake

A few bloggies have talked about this subject already (like Tina and Averie) but I’m interested to hear what you guys think… What makes a recipe *your own*? Does using the same proportions and ingredients but changing one thing make it your recipe??

Well I’m off to practice my Zumba dances and take a nap. I had to cancel my training appointments again- I miss my clients! Here’s hoping I fight this thing like a ninja and am on the mend tomorrow 🙂

Have a lovely night <3


Something *else* to talk about: What are some of your favorite dessert ingredient swap outs? Or do you prefer not to mess with a good thing?

Something to read:

Running FAQs for beginners

Is 9 Daily Servings of Veggies ok?

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  1. jenna on August 6, 2010 at 8:39 am

    my jaw is dropping…..YOUVE NEVER HAD GRAPEFRUIT???? ARE YOU MAD!?! 🙂 hee hee thats just down right crazy to me! it’s one of my very favorite fruits and i’m sure it made your cold fee better!! I hope you liked it~ 🙂

    I can’t believe you are still sick! I hope you get feeling better for the weekend. it’s pitiful to be sick on the weekends! sending you some feel good vibes.

  2. Becky on August 6, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Hi Gina!
    I have a question about the almond milk. I tried it this morning but I did something wrong. I don’t have anywhere NEAR the amount of pulp that your picture shows and using 1 cup of almonds/ 4 cups water,it LOOKED like I had 6 cups of milk after I blended in vita, but it was a lot of foam at the top and now it’s looking more like 4 cups. Was I supposed to use the water that I soaked the almonds in and just dump it all (and add other ingredients) to the vita , or strain almonds and then use a fresh 4 cups ?
    The milk smells and looks amazing…….so I assume it’s drinkable, but I wonder why I don’t have much pulp AT ALL left in the strainer ??
    Thanks! Becky

    • Fitnessista on August 6, 2010 at 9:35 am

      i’d strain the almonds and add fresh 4 cups
      i’m sure the milk will still be delicious! 🙂

  3. Gracie @ Girl Meets Health on August 6, 2010 at 9:04 am

    This was a really, *really* helpful post! I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen (especially with baking) – mostly trying to figure out healthy swaps without compromising flavor/taste!

    As far as what makes a recipe your own, I always err on the side of…it’s not. I just don’t consider swapping ingredients making it my own recipe, you know? So what I usually do is give credit to the original creator of the recipe right off the bat. I’ll often still add it to my recipe page, though, so my readers can have access to what I believe is a great recipe!

  4. A Teenage Gourmet on August 6, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I posted a really good Grapefruit BrIûlée recipe for everyone who doesn’t like grapefruit! It’s super easy. 🙂

  5. Judy on August 6, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Well this seems to be a hot topic lately. I once heard that 3 changes to a recipe made it yours, but that really doesn’t seem like enough change in a lot of cases. I can never follow a recipe anyway, I am always putting my spin on things, or making my own recipes that I forget to write down…so this isn’t really something I worry about!

  6. LisaG on August 6, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Good baking tips. Glad u love grapefruit. I like salt on mine!

  7. Lauren on August 6, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I think that a recipe is officially the original creator’s as long as all changes made to it are straight-across substitutions for original ingredients. It just becomes a healthier version of so-and-so’s dish. When you start to alter the flavor make-up – say, replace banana with zucchini – and make additions that change the constitution of the thing – like changing a quickbread recipe to a bar recipe – it becomes more and more your own creation. (Yet I still think you should attribute your “inspiration” to the original)

    My favorite healthy substitutions (beyond the great ones you mentioned!) are ripe bananas in desserts for oil and sugar; molasses for sugar; yogurt for butter.

  8. Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf on August 6, 2010 at 10:40 am

    My mother-in-law told me once that changing even one thing in a recipe makes it your own. I just go along with that! Though in for blog purposes I really just reference the original recipe I used and notate any changes I made. In baking I almost always replace AP flour with whole wheat pastry flour. No one ever knows. As for desserts, if it’s heavy in the cream factor, I’ll replace some with plain nonfat yogurt or 1/3 less fat cream cheese (not fat free, as it has an off taste and doesn’t taste like cream cheese). In cakes I’ll replace the fat with yogurt, pumpkin, or applesauce, but not in cookies. I prefer to leave well enough alone when it comes to cookies! Except the flour thing. Not sure there’s a single baking recipe I haven’t attacked with my WW pastry flour weapon.

  9. Erika @ Food, Fitness, & Fun on August 6, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Reguarding your recipe question: Even though I may change around a bunch of ingredients in a recipe I still reference the original author simply because I don’t want to get sued! LOL! 🙂

  10. Chicago Cuisine Critique on August 6, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Great tips. Thanks!

  11. Jen on August 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I think it’s someone else’s recipe if you use someone else’s recipe! Like in the carrot cookie case, I’d probably said since you used parts of the recipe it isn’t yours. Normally, I have a hard time coming up with my own baked good recipes because I’m afraid they won’t taste good! But, meals, i’m all over it!

  12. Sassy Molassy on August 6, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    These look delish. I love using applesauce as a substitute and I agree, keep a little oil in there just for some moisture.

  13. Ann Liu on August 6, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I think that if you’re mainly just using one recipe as a base you can’t call it your own, but if you’re looking through various recipes and pulling from them, it’s more your own. What do you suppose the legal definition is?

  14. Teri [a foodie stays fit] on August 8, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    great tips! I bought spelt when I wanted to make your crepes but I’m curious why you like spelt as a replacement for A.P. flour so much? I see a lot of people using whole wheat pastry flour and curious your thoughts on the various whole grain flours.

    • Fitnessista on August 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      whole wheat is great too, i just like spelt’s texture 🙂

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