In my dream world, I would live in a home overflowing with of books.
Rows upon rows, shelves upon shelves, cases upon cases, thousands upon thousands of books.
I was actually thinking back to my early days of Pinterest recently, remembering when the site was brand new, and I’m pretty sure that 90% of my pins were those epic houses and libraries and nooks that were filled to the ceiling with beautiful libraries of books. Not recipes. No, I was more inspired in the early days of Pinterest by all things book-ish, and fell in love with the idea of dwelling (literally) in the midst their great stories and knowledge and wisdom.
But as much as I would love to live in a house that was filled to the brim with thousands upon thousands of books, I made the decision to downsize a few years ago and simplify life by selling my house and half of my belongings. And in doing so, I donated half of my books — already hundreds of books — to charity. It was a bittersweet process, to be sure. But a good one. (Simplifying always is in the end, right?) And for a sentimental person like me who naturally wants to hold on to everything, there was one simple question which helped me decide what to keep — would I actually re-read it?
With so many books and cookbooks, the answer to that was a simple “no”. Especially with my cookbooks. I loved the look of having rows and rows of cookbooks lining my kitchen, and loved the initial flip-through to oooh and ahhh over the delicious photos. But I have always found most of my recipes online, and decided that most of those books might get more use in some other cooks’ kitchens.
But. When The Skinnytaste Cookbook arrived on my doorstep last week and I began thumbing through the beautiful pages of recipes and healthy eating tips galore, I knew in an instant that this one was going to be a “keeper”. And I couldn’t wait to dive in and actually start cooking all of those recipes that I had dog-eared. So today I’m happy to be giving away a copy of the cookbook to one of you (see below for details!), and share with you the first recipe of Gina’s that I made — Guiltless Chocolate Chip Pancakes.
Of all the cookbooks from my food blogging friends, I have to say that I have probably been looking forward to this release the most. I have been following Gina’s blog seemingly forever — from the days that it began as Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes, through her decision to rename it Skinnytaste, and up through the release of her very first cookbook this past month. And while everyone has been absolutely blown away by the success of the book (hello #1 spots on Amazon in the month even before it was released, and subsequent New York Times Best Seller status), I don’t think any one has been surprised.
Because this girl and her recipes are simply wonderful.
First off, let’s talk about her recipes. Anyone who has read Gina’s blog for years know that her recipes are good. Make that, consistently good. She began her site with the intention of sharing “delicious, healthy, low-fat, family friendly recipes”, and she has not wavered from that purpose in 5+ years. She is an absolute pro at lightening up classic recipes and coming up with creative new creations of her own, and people keep coming back for more because she is also consistent in keeping everything approachable and using everyday ingredients. I have definitely learned tons of tips and tricks from her about healthy cooking over the years, and love how she has translated so many of my favorite comfort food dishes into (what my friend, Kate, distinguishes as) “feel good” recipes. Especially her Baked Chicken Parmesan — the best!!!
But I have to say, I am an even bigger fangirl of Gina’s nowadays after having had the chance to get to know her in person over the past year. Somehow I lucked out this year, and we ended up on three trips together, and as you’re reading this we’re actually back in Utah together at another retreat. And let me just tell you, this girl is a positive delight in person. She’s warm, encouraging, funny, smart, hard-working, positive, thoughtful, and always smiling. She’s the mom of two beautiful girls, one in elementary school and one in college (although Gina doesn’t look a day over 30). Oh, and she is totally a New Yorker and has the best accent, which always makes this Midwesterner happy. :)
But what impresses me the most about Gina is how she has stayed so incredibly humble and grateful and plugged into her community, even while experiencing tremendous career success. Just earlier this month, she was on national TV on evening selling thousands of copies of her new book, and then the next morning she was hanging out in cozy slippers soaking up some girl time with friends and graciously helping me brainstorm some recipes for a project, like it was no big deal. Because while this stage of her career is a very big deal (and well-earned, I would add), she’s keeps things in perspective, and knows that all of the friends and family in her life are an equally big deal. And continues to be her awesome self within her community, as well as rocking it on the shelves at Target.
Anyway, I could go on, but just trust me — she’s great. :)
As are these Guiltless Chocolate Chip pancakes that are in her new cookbook. And this adorable photo of Gina and her daughter making them. (I love her little princess dress!)
True to form with Gina’s site, these pancakes are lightened up significantly in terms of fat and calories, but they taste just as decadent as ever. Part of that is due to this delicious batter, which is made lighter with egg whites.
And part is due to the use of one of my favorite ingredients — mini chocolate chips. Each pancake gets a sprinkle of them, which is enough for a satisfying (yet not overly) chocolate-y breakfast.
Just cook them up in a griddle or skillet…
And then you can serve them plain, or drizzled with a little bit of honey or maple syrup. I surprised myself and didn’t use all of the chocolate chips in the recipe, so I sprinkled the extras on top.
Pretty sure I wouldn’t have guessed “guiltless” from looking at this photo, but that’s Skinnytaste for you. ;)
Just like Gina says, they are “delicious, healthy, low-fat, and family friendly”. And I would add, crazy good.
So all that said, if you’d like to enter our mini giveaway here for a chance to win a copy of The Skinnytaste Cookbook, just leave one comment below telling us your favorite comfort food (that is lightened up, or that you would like to see lightened up). And I will chose a winner on November 1.
Or, you can just pick up a copy for yourself online or at a local bookseller if you’d like, which I highly recommend.
Thanks for a great recipe, a great cookbook, and just for being great, Gina!
These guiltless chocolate chip pancakes are so sweet and comforting, yet all the more enjoyable knowing they are made with lighter ingredients.
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or soy or low-fat dairy milk)
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
cooking spray or oil mister
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
honey or pure maple syrup, for serving (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, almond milk, egg whites, oil and vanilla. Stir the flour mixture into the applesauce mixture until just moist, being careful not to overmix.
Heat a large nonstick griddle over medium-low heat. When hot, lightly spray the pan with oil. Scoop out 1/4 cup of pancake batter for each pancake, then sprinkle 1 teaspoon of chocolate chips on top. Cook until the pancakes start to bubble and the edges begin to set, 1 1/2 minutes. Flip the pancakes over and cook the second side until golden, 1 1/2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter.
To serve, put 2 pancakes on each of 5 serving plates and then top with honey or maple syrup (if using).
Also, for any of you bloggers or photographers who might be interested in how I shot the above pancakes-on-a-fork, I just published a post on How To Photograph Floating Food on the new Photography Resources section of the site. If you’re interested, check it out!
My favorite comfort food lightened up is Protein Pancakes.
Even looking at these pancakes makes me hungry!
My favorite comfort food (that I’d like to see lightened up) is classic mac and cheese. Great post-you definitely convinced me I need to add this cookbook to my collection. :)
A quote from yesterday, “if being skinny means no pizza, then it’s not going to happen!”. I’d love a lightened up version.
When my husband was low carbing it we found a low carb southwestern meatloaf that is amazing
Warm cookies are my favorite comfort food. Usually chocolate chip!
My go to comfort food is mashed potatoes and love some of the versions using cauliflower to lighten them up.
Love me some soups and stews lightened up! Especially now that cold weather is on the way!!
I’d love to make those pancakes; they are definitely a favorite comfort food. Thanks for sharing and for the cookbook giveaway!
Oh my! These pancakes are gorgeous. NEED that cookbook!
Comfort food is always some kind of pasta for me!
My favorite comfort food is chicken and dumplings. I don’t think I’ve seen a lightened up version that holds a candle to the normal recipe.
Can’t go wrong with chocolate chip pancakes!!
Love Gina! I have been following and cooking along with her for years. I’m currently on the hunt for the perfect mac and cheese recipe. It needs to be smooth, creamy, cheesy and reheat well. Lightened up would be a bonus!
My favorite comfort food is chicken parmesan! I love seeing some ways to lighten it up. I would love this cookbook!
My comfort food is baked goods…cookies, muffins, oatmeal bars, and did I mention cookies?
I’m not a big fan of greens so I add them to smoothies or make them in pesto. I love making my own pesto at home with fresh (sometimes homegrown) greens and herbs. I lighten pesto by using about half the oil and half the nuts traditional recipes call for. I just recently discovered Skinnytaste (the blog). The book would look fab in my kitchen :D
PS. I love your pics :)
One of my favorite comfort foods is macaroni and cheese!
My comfort food is baked goods…cookies, muffins, oatmeal bars, and did I mention cookies? I love using applesauce, greek yogurt and pumpkin to lighten up recipes – the skinnytaste cookbook sounds fabulous!
My favorite comfort food is lasagna!
i love macaroni and cheese!
Chocolate cake, or chocolate chip cookies. Both are my weaknesses, but so not-good-for-me!
I love lightening up lasagna by using either zucchini or squash (acorn is my favorite) depending on what is in season.
Something cheesy with pasta.
Liege waffles have been my confort food in the past months
My favorite comfort food is anything with noodles – especially lasagna :)
Love this giveaway! Buying this cookbook is definitely on my list.
Mac and cheese…or any kind of pasta, really!
Any kind of lightened up pasta is great for our family!
I love lightened up French toast! So delicious on
a chilly fall morning!
Those pancakes look mouthwatering delicious. Will be trying them asap. I love your blog as well as SkinnyTaste! Majority of my weekly recipes come from either of the two :)
A favorite in my house is actually from Gina – her tuna noodle casserole. YUM!!!!!!
I’m a huge fan of macaroni and cheese. I made a lightened up version using pumpkin (and may have added bacon to counteract the “lightening up”)!
PIZZA! Orrr Mac N Cheese…YUM-O :)
I am obsessed with bookshelves & home libraries. Tall, long rows and rooms covered in hardcovers. Hopefully you’ll never have to give more books away again! Because then we won’t be able to experience things like these pancakes, which look to die for!
My favorite comfort food is chicken broccoli braid, made with crescent rolls. This definitely needs a little help lightening up.
I lOVE Pastitsio. Italians have lasagna, Greeks have pastitsio… there is pasta,ground beef or lamb, and a rich béchamel sauce on top. I’d love to see this guiltless!
My favorite comfort food is pasta. I lighten it up by using whole wheat pasta.
I crave chocolate desserts when I’m looking for a comfort food.
my favorite comfort food is matzah ball soup that my mom makes! so simple, yet so delicious! can be made healthier with addition of veggies like carrots, celery and onion.
Ice Cream. Always, always, ice cream.
My mom’s potato rolls are the best comfort food.
My comfort food would have to be gnocchi – in any kind of cheesy creamy decadent sauce. If that could be lightened up, I’d be in heaven!
I really dont have a favorite food but what I’m craving right now (7 1/2 months pregnant), is vegetable beef soup and big chunks of butter bread!
I’ve been a long-time follower and LOVE your website! Can’t wait to try these pancakes and get this book! Some go-to comfort foods I’d love to somehow lighten up (or see your spin): sweet potato fries, classic beer-battered fish-n-chips, mac-n-cheese (of course, and any other Italian cheesy pasta dish), and carrot cake with butterscotch sauce :)
My husband has mastered gluten free waffles and leaves out the sugar. The syrup and fruit to the heavy lifting of sweetening. We usually save them for Saturday mornings, but sometimes he surprises me mid-week to lift my spirits.
Congratulations to Gina on the release of her cookbook. It looks awesome. My favorite comfort food changes with the weather, currently it’s chocolate cake.
Chicken Noodle Soup is one of my all-time favorite go-to comfort foods! Can’t wait to try these lightened up chocolate chip pancakes!!!