A lighter, healthier version of the classic favorite!
Over the summer, I did the unthinkable. The unimaginable. The unfathomable.
After 6 years of running (with yoga and occasional cycling as cross training), I, a 5’3” cardio-obsessed weight-wary gym-avoiding girl, bought a kettlebell.
Yes, a kettlebell. One of those cross-fit things that looks like a cannonball with a flat bottom and handle on top. Or a teakettle without the spout. And mine is lime green.
I jumped off the yoga train and began playing with my little kettlebell 3 mornings each week. I swing it between by legs, circle it around my head, and pump it up to the ceiling in one hand while reaching for my toes with the other. In the middle of every workout, I start smiling wider than a clown. I’m waving around a cannonball like a body builder—I feel so macho!
(Just pretend that you don’t see the “10 lb” white writing painted on its front…)
Although I balk at the thought of bumping up the number of reps for curls or pullovers with my itty bitty purple dumbbells, I eagerly push myself to try one more set, just one more! with my kettlebell. It’s almost a mental game of How Long Can Amy Go? And after every 30-minute workout—just half an hour!—my stomach growls as if I just ran 6 miles. (More cookies for me!)
Four months with my kettlebell, and I’m basically obsessed…
Do you know what else is small, addictive, and packs quite a punch?
Monkey Bread Bites.
Have you heard of Monkey Bread? I hadn’t until last March when my mom mentioned that she saw an ad appear for it in my blog’s sidebar. I finally researched recipes last week and nearly toppled off my chair in excitement at the pictures. Soft pieces of biscuit dough coated in cinnamon sugar, pressed into a pan, and coated with a bucket of melted butter. After baking, you pull it apart bite by bite with your fingers until every crumb disappears from the table.
Since my self-restraint flies straight out the window with all cinnamon sugar sweets, I made my monkey bread bite-sized for portion control. You’ll end up with 24 of these little treats, so you’ll need 2 mini muffin pans. We’re making these a little lighter and healthier than the standard recipe, so you won’t use a whole cup of butter! Instead, generously coat both pans with cooking spray to prevent the sugar coating from sticking.
The Immaculate Baking Company sent me a free sample of their buttermilk biscuits, and because their Nutrition Information looked a little better than other brands, I popped open the can for this recipe. You’ll cut each big puffy biscuit into thirds; then slice each third into 5 pieces.
5 pieces = 1 Monkey Bread Bite
Roll each little piece into a ball and set them aside. While they look small now, they’ll fluff up and double in size in the oven!
To make these Monkey Bread Bites skinny, you’ll dip them in a milk and melted butter mixture before coating them with cinnamon sugar. This really reduces the fat and calories without losing the rich buttery flavor! (You’ll only use about half of the mixture in the recipe, which I already factored into the Nutrition Information.)
While most recipes call for granulated sugar and cinnamon, I opted for half brown and half white sugar. The brown sugar adds a sweet addictive caramel undertone, which really elevates the bites. Don’t swap it out!
When assembling the Monkey Bread Bites, treat them similar to breading chicken: use one hand for the milk/butter mixture, the other for the cinnamon sugar, and don’t cross contaminate! You’ll end up with a sticky sugary mess on your first hand, although I suppose there are probably worse things in life…
After 12 minutes in the oven, they come out looking caramelized and gorgeous. Just look at those puffy little beauties! Don’t you want to reach through the screen and pull off a piece?
Only let them cool for a few minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. If you wait too long, the sticky syrup that formed in the bottom of each muffin cup refuses to slide out. And when you shake the pan upside down extra hard to force them out, those little balls of biscuit dough that are so easy to pull apart just… Crumble. Into 5 individual pieces. Thus depriving you of the joy of picking off each ball individually to eat. (Trust me, I botched my first batch. So sad!)
One Christmas morning, we usually snack on generous slices of my grandpa’s special coffee cake while opening gifts, but this year, Monkey Bread Bites might make it on the menu. Or turn into a mid-afternoon snack. Or an after-dinner treat.
Any which way, they’ll be worth every minute of my kettlebell workout the next day!
*Disclaimer: The Immaculate Baking Company sent me these buttermilk biscuits free-of-charge. All text, recipes, and opinions are my own.