Sassy's Southern Kitchen

Low Sodium Recipes: Dark Chocolate Brownie Protein Bites

Protein bites are a great little snack to have on hand in the house, especially during the summer when you and your family need to grab something from the fridge after a long morning of enjoying the summer sunshine. While I do not claim to be any kind of health expert, this is probably one of the healthiest recipes I have ever made. These protein bites are the perfect balance of salty and sweet flavors, and have just enough protein to make you feel full after only one serving. While they do have the traditional salty taste of peanut butter, these bites are quite low in sodium and will not make much of an impact on your daily limit. Basically, if you can accept a little fat and carbs, these are really good for you!;) I hope that you and your family enjoy these as much as we did!

The Ingredients: 1/3 cup rolled oats, 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (any kind), 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup chocolate chips,  2 tbsp. chunky peanut butter, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tbsp. vanilla almond milk.

Stir together the dry ingredients, then add the honey, peanut butter, and almond milk. Mix this together with a rubber spatula or your hands until fully combined. Using a cookie scoop, portion the mixture into 1 to 1.5 inch balls and store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. Makes 6 protein bites. Enjoy!

For those of you who are interested in a full breakdown of the nutritional value of this recipe, I have included a list of the nutrition facts below. Feel free to alter the ingredients in this recipe to suit your personal needs or desires.;)

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 156
Total Fat 6.8g 9%
Saturated Fat 2.2g 11%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 73mg 3%
Potassium 145mg 3%
Total Carb 21.7g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2.1g 8%
Sugars 16g
Protein 4.8g
Vitamin A 3% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 8% · Iron 5%

Here’s some cute little protein bites, even if they are different sizes:)

Caramelized Onion and Parmesan Focaccia

If you’re looking for an easy, really good bread that has a very short cooking time, then focaccia is the one for you! Focaccia is usually classified as a flatbread, however, it is different that your typical flatbread because it contains yeast. You can top it with herbs, veggies, gourmet dried meats, olives, any kind of cheese, whatever you want! My favorite way to make focaccia is to caramelize a big pan of onions and grate a generous amount of Parmesan cheese to use as toppings. To me, focaccia is basically a giant breadstick, and what could be better than that?! Most packaged focaccia bread is high in sodium and preservatives, which is why the homemade version is so much better for you. In short, I encourage you to start experimenting with focaccia as soon as possible, the results are worth the effort. Don’t be overwhelmed by my lengthy instructions on this recipe, I took the time to explain each step so that you don’t have to read this recipe every time you want focaccia.;) This edition of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef, Queenbee, El Gastronomo, and Friar Tyst.

The Chef: “Queenbee, I know how much you like focaccia, so how do you like this version?” Queenbee: “Mmm…that’s really good, save some of that for me!” 

The Chef: “El Gastronomo, how do you like the bread?” El Gastronomo: “(makes face of ecstasy while chewing)” The Chef: “I’ll take that as a thumbs up.”

The Chef: “Friar Tyst, what do you think of focaccia?” Friar Tyst: “Well this is actually a good homemade bread, its hard to make good bread. You should make this one again.” The Chef: “Since you insist.”  

The Ingredients: 2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 1 cup warm water, 1 tbsp. active dry yeast, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tsp. Flavor Mate Salt Free Garlic & Herb seasoning blend, 1 tsp. oregano flakes, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black peppercorns, 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 small yellow or red onion (sliced), 1 tbsp. butter, additional 1/4 cup olive oil, additional teaspoon of sugar.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and spices until fully combined. Add the yeast and sugar; for best results, make sure that the sugar and yeast are touching. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the warm water and tablespoon of olive oil until a shaggy dough forms. Turn this out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for three to five minutes, or until a smooth ball of dough forms. Rinse out your original mixing bowl well grease the bottom and the sides with butter or your oil of choice. Place the formed ball of dough into your greased bowl. Place a warm, damp towel securely over the bowl and let the dough rise for one hour.

Begin preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Turn your risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in half of the Parmesan cheese. Grease a baking sheet with the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Press the dough onto the baking sheet. Cover it with a towel and let it rise briefly while you caramelize your onion. To caramelize an onion, peel it, then slice it into u-shaped pieces. Saute these in a tablespoon of butter over medium heat with a teaspoon of sugar until the mixture turns light brown in color, about ten minutes. Sprinkle the onions and remaining cheese over the dough until it is evenly coated. Bake your focaccia for fifteen to twenty minutes or until the top is brown and crusty. Serve warm with hummus or dipping oil. Serves 6. Enjoy!

This has got to be one of my more attractive recipes….;)

Dairy Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Swirl “Ice Cream”

For those of you out there who are sensitive to dairy. or completely intolerant to it, this one is for you. Who knew that you could make an ice cream imitation with frozen bananas? I didn’t! This “ice cream” is for peanut butter and chocolate lovers alike! And for those of you who love both flavors, it is a dream come true! All you need is frozen bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. That’s all there is to it! Such a simple recipe, such delicious results……:) If you’re looking for a cool treat to satisfy your summer cravings, or just a naughty little indulgence that happens to be low-calorie….and delicious….then this recipe is for you. There are many different variations that you can create, but it all comes down to the frozen banana. As long as you have that, anything goes. Have fun my friends!

The Ingredients: 1 sliced banana (frozen), 2 tbsp. peanut butter of choice, 1 tbsp. chopped chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips, 1 tbsp. vanilla or chocolate almond milk (optional).

The night before you plan to make the “ice cream”, slice up a banana, place in into an airtight container, and freeze overnight. The next morning, take the frozen banana out of the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for about five to ten minutes. In the bowl of your food processor, add the frozen banana. Blend on medium speed for about three minutes. If the mixture is clumpy, add the almond milk and mix until smooth and creamy. Spoon the mixture back into the airtight container and fold in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. Eat immediately if you like soft serve, or freeze for an hour to get and ice cream consistency. Enjoy!

Blueberry Buttermilk Waffles

Mourn for me my friends, why, you may ask? Last week was the end of blueberry season up here in the mountains. Farewell sweet indigo orbs of juicy delight! Farewell jellies, jams, syrups, pastries, pies, and every other delicious treat made from your dark and addicting juice! Sigh. I guess I will have to console myself by making a batch of blueberry waffles from what we have left in the freezer. Oh wait, I already did that. Why am I here today? Oh yes, I was supposed to be telling you how to make waffles, but instead I am feeling sorry for myself. Speaking of feeling sorry for oneself…hey, you, single person in the Snuggie on your sofa with the mega size jar of nutella, put that fattening cylinder back in the pantry and make something nutritious for dinner! Sorry if I came across as too sassy….;) Waffles have been and always will be a comfort food in my book. There nothing quite like a waffle that’s crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and topped with melting butter and fruit syrup. Are you hungry yet?;) These Blueberry Buttermilk Waffles are the ultimate answer to your comfort food cravings, you can use fresh or frozen berries in this recipe. For those sensitive to gluten or dairy, you can use a nut-based milk instead of real milk, or a gluten-free flour. These are very versatile, I have yet to find a waffle recipe that is not delicious. I hope you and your family enjoy these!

The Ingredients: 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup organic granulated sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 stick melted butter, 2 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk (substitute below), 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries.

Preheat your waffle iron. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate, small bowl, add the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter, whisk until fully combined. If you do not have buttermilk, simply mix two cups of regular milk with two tablespoons of lemon juice, let this mixture sit for up to thirty minutes before using. Combine the wet and the dry ingredients, whisking until just combined. Toss the blueberries in a generous pinch of flour and fold them into the batter with a rubber spatula. Now, for the best part, cook the waffles according to the directions that come with your waffle maker!:) Makes exactly six waffles. Enjoy!

Now, doesn’t that look delicious?!

Low Sodium Recipes: The Best Lite Ranch Dressing

This past week I noticed another sodium-filled item in our pantry that could be disposed of and made from scratch….that hallowed packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix. I was shocked to discover that a mere half a teaspoon of the prepared dressing contained nearly 200 mg. of sodium! Outrageous! Unbelievable! How is this possible!? This is not to mention the usual added preservatives and artificial flavors found in all boxed and packaged foods. In short, it is always better to make things from scratch. I know that this is not always possible, but a good rule of thumb to remember is to NEVER add salt to a packaged or boxed meal/food. Any-who, I discovered that we had hoarded the packet of body-harming-toxins for so long that it was out of date….oops. So, to console my grief I decided to make a homemade version that would hopefully taste just as good or better than the original. The great news about this dressing is that is is low in sodium, egg-free, and much healthier than most store-bought condiments. Also, it is a one-bowl recipe (insert praise hands here). I am sure that those of you out there who tire of endlessly washing dishes will be glad to hear this news. Feel free to play around with different spices in this recipe to find your niche when it comes to that perfect ranch flavor. Everyone has a different preference when it comes to ranch dressing. Some like more pepper, some like buttermilk, some like a buffalo flavor, the options are endless. Think of this recipe as a base upon which you can expand. So, without further ado, let’s see what the general public thought of this dish:

The Chef: “Queenbee, how do you like the ranch dressing?” Queenbee: “Mmmm, it’s really good.” 

The Chef: “Mr. Health Inspector, what do you think of this?” The Health Inspector: ” (eating) It’s real good I guess.” (continues eating) The Chef: “You can stop tasting it now.” The Health Inspector: “But it’s so good!” 

The Chef: “La Critico, do you like the ranch dressing in the macaroni salad?” La Critico: “Well it’s one of the better noodle meals.” 

The Ingredients: 1 cup light mayo, 1 cup reduced fat or light sour cream, 1/4 to 1/3 cup skim milk or evaporated milk (1/4 cup for a thick consistency, 1/3 cup for a thinner consistency), 1 tsp, garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. Flavor Mate Original Salt-Free Seasoning, 1 tsp. Flavor Mate Garlic-Herb Salt-Free Seasoning (or Italian seasoning), 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. freshly ground sea salt, 1/2 to 1 tsp. freshly ground black peppercorns.

Whisk together the mayo, sour cream, and milk of choice in a medium mixing bowl, adding more milk as needed to reach your desired consistency. Add the spices, mix until fully combined. Chill in your fridge for at least an hour. For best results, make the dressing the evening before you need it and refrigerate overnight.

An essential condiment, now made lighter and more delicious!


Recipes for College Students: Cherries & Cream Oatmeal

Hello again fellow college students! I know that most of you are taking the summer term off (me included), but….there are some people out there who are much more dedicated to their studies, who have decided to slog through more classes this summer. So, to you brave souls out there, I give you yet another great recipe for quick oatmeal! Today I give you a recipe never before seen in the world of instant oatmeal! We’ve seen, blueberries & cream, peaches & cream, strawberries & cream, and even that nasty bananas & cream, but never before has someone attempted to make a cherries & cream! So, I looked at a little Ziploc bag containing the last of the fresh cherries in the back of our fridge, and decided that they would make the perfect, nutritious breakfast. Get ready for a recipe that will blow your mind, and make you ask the question:

Related image

The Ingredients: 1/3 cup quick oats, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk, 1 tbsp. organic granulated sugar, 1/4 to 1/3 cup sliced fresh cherries, 1 tbsp. cherry preserves, whipped cream.

Add the oats and water to a small pot over medium heat, cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk and stir to combine. Add the cherries and sugar. Let the oatmeal simmer for another two minutes. Turn off the heat, add the cherry preserves, and serve with whipped cream. Makes one serving. Enjoy!

Total Calories: 230 to 250 calories for one serving (not counting whipped cream). 

So simple, so delicious!

Old Fashioned Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies

My family has always used box mixes for brownies and cake, but, up until recently I did not know that box mixes contain tons of preservatives, additives, and sodium. In light of this fact, I decided to begin making more things from scratch. So, this week, I finally did it, I took the plunge…..I made homemade brownies….and they were not terrible! In fact, they were, dare I say, way better than the box mix! I can say with certainty that our home will be seeing a lot less of those box mixes and a whole lot more of homemade goodies! These brownies are very easy to make, and well worth the effort. This installment of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef, Queenbee, and Friar Tyst. Let’s see what the general public thought about these little chocolate bites.

The Chef: “Queenbee, what do you think about the brownies?” Queenbee: “They are very good, I like the dark chocolate flavor.” The Chef: “I thought you might.” 

The Chef: “Friar Tyst, how do you like these?” Friar Tyst: “Well they’re actually pretty good.” The Chef: “I’m glad you like them.” 

The Ingredients: 4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 5 tbsp. room temperature butter, 2 eggs, 1/8 cup water, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt, additional 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a square cake pan or 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a small pot over medium heat, melt together the butter, sugar, unsweetened chocolate, 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips, and water until the chocolate and butter are fully melted. Pour the mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the eggs in a separate, small bowl. Temper the eggs by adding a tablespoon of the brownie mixture, whisking constantly. Slowly add the tempered eggs to the chocolate mixture, whisking constantly to combine. Add the flour and salt, mix until well combined. Fold in the remaining chocolate chips and pour the batter into your lined baking pan. Bake for precisely twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes our clean. Serves 6. Enjoy!

Garden Fresh Steamed Green Beans

Our garden is producing plenty of fresh veggies these days, so I thought I would share a quick and delicious recipe with ya’ll that is sure to brighten up your dinner table.:) We had a small crop of green beans this year, only enough for a few meals, but regardless of that fact we have been enjoying every bite! All you need for this recipe is a medium pot, a metal vegetable steamer basket (which is not as complicated as it sounds), water, green beans, and spices! If you do not have a steamer basket, you can get one for anywhere from five to ten dollars at Walmart or Target, like this one: I hope that you and your family enjoy this recipe as much as we have!

The Ingredients: 2 cups fresh green beans, 1 cup water (plus more if needed), 1 skinned clove of garlic, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 tsp. onion powder, 1/2 tsp. Flavor Mate Salt-free Seasoning.

In a medium pot, place your steamer basket. Add water to pot until it just covers the bottom of the basket. Add your beans and the garlic clove to the basket. Place a lid securely on the pot and cook the beans over medium heat for about ten minutes. Use a slotted spoon of a pair of tongs to transfer the steamed beans to a small serving bowl. Add the spices and toss to combine. Serve warm with desired toppings or as is. Serves 4.

Just wait until you taste the amazing, fresh flavor of these green beans!

Berry Pecan Protein Bites

Ya’ll! How come I have never heard of protein bites before now??? Those little nuggets are amazing! Not to mention customizable. You can literally make whatever flavor of protein bite you want, whether it be chocolate, peanut butter, fruit, nut, dessert flavors….the options are endless! The whole point of protein bites is to give you a little boost both before and after a workout, but they make great everyday snacks too! There are really endless good things we could discuss regarding this snack, they’re portable, last forever in the fridge, I could go on a and on. This Berry Pecan flavor is the first one that I ever tried, the original recipe was titled “superfood energy balls”, and the author included flax seeds and chia seeds in her version. That was too much fiber for my taste, so I picked one instead of both. Queenbee has become a recent convert to these little delicacies, as she has requested new flavors to be tested in our kitchen soon. I hope that ya’ll enjoy them as much as we did!;)

The Ingredients: 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup all natural chunky peanut butter, 2 tbsp. honey, 1/3 cup pecans, 1/4 cup dried cherries, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 2 tbsp. ground flax seed, 1 tbsp. almond milk (optional).

In the bowl of your food processor, add the pecans, rolled oats, and flax seed. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. In a separate, small bowl, using a rubber spatula, mix together the peanut butter, honey, and dried fruit. Add the wet mixture to the dry and pulse until just combined. If the mixture seems overly dry, add the almond milk. Transfer the finished mixture to the small bowl you used for the wet ingredients. Form the dough into a ball with your hands. Using a cookie scoop, form 1 inch balls to create protein bites. store the bites in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. Depending on the size of your cookie scoop, this recipe makes five large or eight small protein bites.

So delicious!

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