Posts made in February 16th, 2012

200 calorie hot fudge brownie sundae


Posted on Feb 16, 2012 in Food

I could die immediately after hitting “publish” on this post and be happy. This may be my greatest masterpiece. I’m not sure I can ever top this.

Brownie. Banana soft serve. Hot fudge. Coconut whipped cream. 200 calories. Boo. Yah.


The only problem with this dessert is that it’s a wee bit complicated. You don’t get to eat a 200 calorie sundae without a little work. You can’t just go out and buy brownies, ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream and expect it to be low-calorie and all-natural. Nope, to get to that magical 200 calorie mark, I had to make each and every element from scratch. Time-consuming? Yes. Totally worth it? Also yes.


The beauty of having each of these recipes in my repertoire now is that they can be used in other places. The brownies are a fudgy, low-calorie treat all on their own (perfect for lunch dessert). I just had some of the hot fudge sauce on my overnight oats this morning. And I can’t wait to put the coconut whipped cream on a pie this summer. Actually, heads up, expect to see this coconut whipped cream pretty much in every single dessert recipe over the next year. I was skeptical about making whipped cream from coconut milk, but it turned out to be incredibly easy and the end result was eat-it-straight-out-of-the-mixer-bowl kinda good. Plus, over regular heavy whipping cream, using coconut milk saves you 200 calories per 1/2 liquid cup. And because I’m such a coconut fan, I believe this tastes better than the traditional kind!

I’ve mentioned before that I have this pipe dream (as in, it sounds fun in my head, but in no way do I want to put in the work) of opening up an all-natural restaurant. If that ever did happen, this sucker would be on the menu in a heart beat. Watch out Dairy Queen, I’m coming for you and your high-calorie, low-quality sweet treats. Muwahaahhaah!

200 Calorie Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 4 sundaes, plus extra brownies



For the brownies
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4)
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
For the hot fudge
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
For the coconut whipped cream
  • 1 can coconut milk, refrigerated (not light)
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
For the sundaes


For the brownies
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, vanilla, and egg whites until well combined. Add in flour, cocoa, salt and sugar and whisk until just combined. Pour into a cooking spray coated square baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until middle feels solid. Let cool in pan for 15-20 minutes, then slice into nine brownies.
For the hot fudge
  1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk together cocoa, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and continue stirring while it boils for 1-2 minutes or until mixture thickens and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in baking chocolate until melted. Set aside. Sauce will thicken more as it cools.
For the coconut whipped cream
  1. Carefully open the cold can of coconut milk, without shaking or stirring. Spoon out the top, white portion (leaving the clear coconut water in the bottom of the can). Whip coconut cream on high in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add in confectioner’s sugar and whip 1-2 minutes more until combined.
To assemble sundaes
  1. In a bowl, top one brownie (heated briefly in the microwave, if preferred) with 1/2 cup banana soft serve. Drizzle soft serve with 2 tablespoons of hot fudge sauce. Top sundae with 2 tablespoons of whipped cream and one cherry.
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What would you consider your greatest masterpiece?

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my home gym tour


Posted on Feb 16, 2012 in Fitness

I’m seen a few fabulous folks post tours of their home gym, and I enjoyed seeing other people’s workout spaces so much that I thought it might be fun to share mine as well.

I let my gym membership* lapse back in December after deciding I wasn’t really getting my money’s worth. I really loved my gym. It was close (about a 90 second drive), never busy and had all the awesome equipment I loved. But even with all of that, I found myself only going once or twice a week, especially when the weather was nice. And 4-8 sessions a month just wasn’t worth the membership fee, to me. So to save a bit of cash, I decided to go without, and it’s worked out pretty well so far!

We’ve accumulated all of our equipment over the past five years or so. Some were big splurges (our elliptical and treadmill) some were cheap, cheap, cheap. I’m pretty happy with our set up. Currently it’s in our spare bedroom which serves lots of purposes (storage, craft room, office), but when we buy a house, I’d love to create a dedicated gym space complete with an entertainment system, soft floor and mirrors.

Weights, Odds & Ends

We have a terribly mismatched set of 3, 8 and 15 pound hand dumbbells that do pretty much everything I need. The 3-pounder barely gets used because it’s too light for my totally ripped guns stronger muscles, but between the 8 and 15, I can do most everything I need. I’d really love to get a nice set like this one day. We also have a basket on the shelf to store our weight lifting gloves, Body Glide, sweatbands and heart rate monitors. That way we never have to go searching around the house for them when we’re ready to work out. Also stored on this shelf (and on the pegboard above) are some of the smaller, lesser used equipment—resistance bands, jump rope, foam roller, pull-up bar.


Does my husband know how to buy an awesome Christmas gift, or what? These beautiful, shiny, heavy guys were under the tree this year and I’m giddy with excitement over them! I prefer to have a mirror when doing kettlebell work, because form is so vital to prevent injury, but for now I just go easy and use the lighter bells.

Elliptical & Treadmill

I had a crazy moment a few years ago where I decided I must have an elliptical and plopped down in front of Amazon with my credit card and bought this guy. I’ve since stopped using credit cards, but I’m happy to have the elliptical. For a few years it stood almost entirely unused, but now that I’m more active, I’m really happy to have a piece of equipment I can just hop on and work up a good sweat on.

Mr. Tready is the newest and most-used member of the Johnston Home Gym family. This sucker was on special at Menards and after doing some research, we realized we were getting a mega deal and pounced. We brought him home and absolutely love it. It’s so nice to be able to run or walk regardless of the weather. And I love the iPod/iPad jack.

Recumbent Bike

We bought this bike with some of the cash we got from our wedding almost five years ago. It’s not all that great of quality, but the pedals move and the computer display tracks distance and time. That’s about all I need! It doesn’t get a lot of use, mostly only when one of us is injured and need a low-impact workout. We might get rid of it when we move.

Yoga Mats & Stability Ball

They are really poor quality, cheap yoga mats stacked on top of each other, but I just wanted something that I could use to cover up the carpet. I hate doing floor work on our itchy carpet, and these guys do the trick. Eventually, if we ever do a tricked-out home gym, I’d love to have real gym floors installed.

If you only can afford to buy one piece of home gym equipment, I recommend the stability ball! I use it all the time and have since I bought it four years ago. There are so many great exercises you can do on and with the ball in all different levels of intensity.


This bench was only $30 but it does pretty much everything we need it to do. It’s sturdy enough for me to do tricep dips off the side, but light enough that I can pick it up and move it without a lot of struggle.

Motivation & Tracking

Because no gym is complete without some motivation on the walls, we have our race medals and bibs tacked on the walls. I also have a calendar up to track my fitness minutes and progress on my plank times and pushups. I’d love to eventually have a home gym with a half corkboard half chalkboard wall so I can post motivating things I find and write out workouts and motivational quotes. Y’all know how much I love a good motivational quote.

*Note: Thanks to the nice folks at Anytime Fitness, I do have a membership there that is still going strong. But the only location in my town is about 20 minutes away. I go there on weekends when I’m really craving a gym session, but I do most of my workouts at home. I do love my AF membership for traveling! If you are a member of one Anytime Fitness you are a member of ALL 1800+ Anytime Fitness locations, which rocks. I wish that my local AF was closer to my house and office, because it is a beautiful facility with awesome folks.

What’s in your home gym?