Hassleback Baked Envy Apples for your Valentine! {low carb}

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

I love any reason to celebrate- especially when it involves whipping up sweet treats for family and friends. 

I’ve been thinking about what to whip up this year for this day of love, and of course, thought of all of the regular go-tos: brownies, cookies, cheesecakes, truffles… 

But then, THESE gorgeous gems arrived at my doorstep courtesy of Envy Apples and Allan Brother’s Inc.

This year, because of a partnership between Orangespoken and Envy Apples, I knew that these gorgeous beauties would be the perfect ingredient for whipping up a Valentine’s Day treat! 

The Envy apple is just apple perfection. Sweet, crisp, and clean, this apple was created as a cross between Royal Gala and Braeburn apples. The flesh is bright and white, and the skin is a gorgeous blend of swirly and speckled reds, oranges, and yellows. Envy apples are in season in the US from November through March, and if you live in the Tampa Bay area, you can pick up a fresh bag of Envy apples from your nearest Walmart Supercenter! 

Envy apples are absolutely delicious on their own, sliced up and paired with your favorite nut butter, diced up and tossed into savory salads, or cooked into pies, cakes, or breads! They also make an amazing addition to your favorite sangria recipe! 

At only 18g of carbs per apple, 3g fiber, 65 calories, and around 12g of natural sugar in each medium sized apple, you can feel good about adding these to your daily diet- even if you’re doing low carb or keto (like me), you can enjoy a few slices of these with an added fat (like a drizzle of coconut oil with cocoa powder and stevia, or a dollop of almond butter!). 

OR, you can whip up this recipe for low carb, refined sugar-free Hasselback baked apples! 

I was watching one of my favorite shows on the Food Network last weekend, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, and saw my BFF whip up baked hasselback apples. I had heard of hasselback potatoes before, but hasselback apples were new to me! And They. Looked. Absolutely. AMAZING, and being that I had a gorgeous box of Envy apples just waiting to be turned into something glorious, this recipe seemed like the perfect fit! 

Because I’m deep into (6 months!) eating low carb, no sugar, I definitely wanted to clean up the recipe I saw on the show and make this fit into my lifestyle. 

These apples turned out SO amazingly scrumptious! Juicy and tart, yet buttery and sweet- and the crunch of the almonds on top just sent these over the moon! I used some of my most favorite low carb/keto friendly products in this dish- Envy Apples (of course!), Sukrin Gold, which is an amazing sugar free, low carb sweetener that mimics brown sugar, Bob’s Red Mill blanched almond flour, Kerrygold Irish Butter (seriously the best butter ever!)

Here’s the recipe! 

Hasselback baked apples
Serves 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
For the apples
  1. 3 medium-sized Envy apples- peeled, cored, and halved vertically
  2. 3 tbsp. Sukrin Gold sweetener
  3. 3 tbsp. melted unsalted Kerrygold butter
  4. 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
  5. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the topping
  1. 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
  2. 2 tbsp. Sukrin Gold sweetner
  3. 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  4. 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  5. 1/4 cup almond slices (or chopped pecans)
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. 2. Starting at one edge of the apple, cut most (but not all) of the way through each apple half at 1/8-inch slices (it helps to place the apple half in between two wooden spoons while slicing to prevent the knife from going all of the way through.)
  3. 3. Place apple halves core-side down in a greased ceramic or glass baking dish.
  4. 4. Combine 3 tbsp. Sukrin gold, 3 tbsp. melted butter, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract together and brush mixture evenly over each apple.
  5. 5. Cover the apples with foil and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. While the apples bake, prepare the topping by combing all of the ingredients and stirring until mixed.
  6. 6. Remove apples from the oven and use a butter knife to carefully fan open the slices, just enough so that the topping mixture falls into the slices. Spoon the mixture over the apples and bake uncovered for an additional 10-12 minutes, or until the topping becomes golden brown (you can also broil these for 1-2 minutes right before taking them out of the oven!).
  7. 7. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream!

Learn more about Envy Apples and where to find them by visiting www.envyapples.com.

Follow Envy Apples on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and through the hashtag #biteandbelieve! 



Low Carb, Sugar Free Flan de Queso (Cheese Flan)

Flan was one of those things I never liked as a child. I remember my grandmother and great aunts making it often, but it would always turn my stomach for some reason. I think it was the texture and the overall “look” of it. But with age, I’ve learned to like traditional flan, and have learned to LOVE Flan de queso! 

Flan de queso is like flan and cheesecake got together and had a dessert baby. It has the flavor of traditional caramel flan, but with the texture of a creamy cheesecake. It is DIVINE!

I was watching a hilarious video about flan the other day when it hit me- flan (and flan de queso) can TOTALLY be made to be low carb and keto friendly! With a few tweaks to the batter, and making the caramel sauce out of a healthy sugar substitute, this modification might actually work!

And it did, my friends… it totally DID. 

Now I want to preface this by saying a couple of things:

First, this is my very first attempt at making any flan. Like ever. 

Second, since zero calorie sweeteners aren’t sugar, the caramel sauce is *almost* right, but not quite. It was delicious, but hardened a bit (making the top of the flan queso a little rough/crater-like). I’m going to keep working on it, and I’ll post updates as the recipe improves. By the way, I used Sukrin Gold for the caramel sauce and you can get it here.

Third, the caramel sauce not being perfect doesn’t matter. This flan is DELICIOUS, just DELICIOUS. So delicious that there was NO way I was going to wait until it was perfect to post this recipe. Believe me when I say that you’ll want to put this on your to-do list ASAP. 

Here’s the recipe! (Don’t be intimidated by the steps! I’ve embedded some tips within the steps, so it looks a lot longer than it actually is. Plus, flan de queso is a very forgiving dessert- you really cannot mess it up, promise!)

Low carb, no sugar #Keto friendly Flan de Queso
Serves 10
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 min
  1. 5 large eggs at room temp
  2. 8oz full fat cream cheese at room temp.
  3. 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  4. 1/4 cup Swerve or Truvia no-calorie granulated sweetner
  5. 1/2 cup Sukrin Gold no-calorie sweeter (or an additional 1/2 cup of Truvia + 1 tbsp. molasses)
  6. 2 tbsp. water
  7. 2 tsps. vanilla extract
  8. 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease a 8 or 9in cake pan or round casserole dish with at least 2-3in sides, and then place that greased dish inside a larger pan (like a 13 x 9 lasagna pan) to prepare for baking the flan in a water bath.
  3. Heat 1/2 cup of Sukrin gold (or Truvia + molasses), 2 tbsp. water, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract in a small, heavy-duty saucepan over medium-low heat stirring constantly until sweetener is dissolved and caramel in color. Keep a close eye on the sweetener, as it can easily go from golden to burned in seconds!
  4. Immediately pour the melted sweetener into the greased round dish, being very careful to NOT touch (nor taste!) the melted sweetener- it's SERIOUSLY hot and will severely burn your skin and tongue!
  5. In a blender, blend the cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs, sea salt, 1/4 cup Swerve or Truvia, and remaining tsp. of vanilla until it becomes a smooth batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the cake pan over the caramel.
  7. Add hot water (from the tap is fine) into the larger pan, and around the cake pan, making sure to not get water in the flan batter. It should come up the sides about an inch deep. The cake pan will be sitting in a water bath.
  8. Bake for 1 hour and then remove from oven and let the flan cool in the water bath. Once it is cool to the touch, refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or overnight to prepare it to invert.
  9. When you are ready to serve the flan de queso, run a sharp knife around the edges of the flan to loosen. Place a larger serving plate over the flan, and then quickly flip upside-down to invert. If it doesn't immediately fall onto the plate, run the bottom of the pan with warm water from the tap to loosen.
  10. Slice and serve cold!
Enjoy and Happy New Year! xoxo Steph


Perfect low carb, sugar free chocolate chip cookies

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!!!

I’m SO excited about the upcoming holiday!

The stockings are stuffed, the presents are wrapped, the food is prepped (or ordered!), and the cookies are baked!

A few days ago I posted about all-things-CHRISTMAS COOKIES. Well I’m back to add one more cookie to the list!

There’s still time to bake up a batch of these chewy, crispy, buttery, chocolately, low carb, sugar free, keto friendly chocolate chip cookies to share with family and friends this holiday! These cookies are a winner. They’re SO delicious you’ll think you’re snacking on the real thing! 

I met up with my friend Nanci this morning to collect some Christmas gifts that I had ordered from her shop, This Crazy Life Designs, and decided to bring her a batch of these so that I could recruit her as a taste tester! 😉 She is also super focused on health and fitness goals, so these would be something she could indulge in without worry! She just posted about these little morsels, so I’m assuming they were a hit! 

“Treated myself to one of these delicious little cookies this morning thanks to my friend Steph! They are chock full of healthy goodness!”

 Here’s the recipe! Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Low Carb, Sugar Free Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 36
Made with almond flour, and sweetened with stevia, these cookies are sure to be a holiday hit!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
11 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
11 min
  1. 3 cups of blanched almond flour (I get mine at Trader Joe's or Costco)
  2. 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  3. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  4. 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  5. 1/4 cup of virgin coconut oil (not melted, but soft)
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 3/4 cup Sukrin Gold stevia blend (I get mine from Amazon) **If you don't have Sukrin Gold, use 3/4 cup Truvia + 2 tbsp. molasses)
  8. 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  9. 1/2 tsp. maple extract (if you don't have this, omit!)
  10. 2 cups of Lily's brand chocolate chips or chunks (or a mix of both!)
To make the dough
  1. In a bowl, stir almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt together. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer, beat together butter, coconut oil, and Sukrin Gold (or Truvia, without the molasses) until creamy.
  3. Add in the eggs, vanilla extract, maple extract, (and molasses if you used Truvia), and mix well.
  4. Slowly add the almond flour mixture together, 1/2 cup at a time, while the mixer is running, and mix until the dough is all combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips, and then place the dough in the fridge for about an hour to set.
To bake the cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper (or spray with non-stick cooking spray if you don't have parchment).
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge, and roll out into gumball sized balls, then place onto the cookie sheet, leaving space for spreading.
  4. Bake at 350 for 13-14 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Cool on a baking rack and enjoy warm!
  1. If you are looking for a thinner, crispier cookie, skip the fridge and just bake right away. 🙂
Adapted from Meaningful Eats
Adapted from Meaningful Eats

Low carb Fiddle Faddle (or Poppycock if you’d like!)

When I was around 7 or 8, my grandfather, Abuelito, built me a treehouse. 

It wasn’t fancy or elaborate, just a big wooden platform, about 7 feet off of the ground with a ladder to get up to it. He even added green indoor/outdoor carpeting over the wood to add a little extra something, but other than that, it was a super simple design (unlike my life-size, walk-in, air conditioned playhouse him and my dad built me when I was a toddler which WAS elaborate, but I’ll save that for another post). Continue reading


The New Earth Fare in Oldsmar (and a fall recipe!)

Disclosure: As a local member of TBB, I was invited to attend this event at Earth Fare for free, and receive compensation in the form of a gift card in exchange for my honest review of the store. All foodie-inspired opinions are my own. 

Hey friends! I hope things are well with you and that you had a super weekend! My weekend was a restful one, which was a welcomed sight after a few whirlwind work trips last week. I worked out, grocery shopped, did some cooking, and spent quality time with my main squeeze my husband (still love saying that!) Continue reading


Flourless Cherry Almond Muffins

It’s no secret that I love to cook. But my heart is really attached to all things baking related. 

It’s why I started this blog back in *gasp* 2009. 

The first name of this blog way back in once upon a time-time was “Stretch: Stretch your Budget, not your waistline”. It was a way for me to share the healthy sweet recipes I was creating, and to document my journey as I attempted to start exercising and train for 5k races to lose weight.  Continue reading


Healthy cooking for beginners

Out of all the searches that drive readers to my blog, the top search phrase has always been “healthy cooking for beginners”. I get a LOT of questions about how to meal plan, how to shop and how to cook. I’ve had people tell me that their eating habits are horrible because they “can’t cook”, and resort to pre-packaged foods, fast food and dining out. I’ve heard this on the blog, social media and even in person. 

Well, I’m here to tell you that healthy cooking is EASY. No seriously, I promise! Here are my tips for getting started in a healthy meal prep routine… and making a habit of it!  Continue reading