Gilean: Baking Contest Recipe Testing

I’m back at my desk after a solid two days of testing out our readers’ dessert recipes for Clean Eating’s ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Clean!’ Baking Contest – and I’ve got to admit, I kind of prefer it when my “office” involves whisking and mixing up delicious treats!

It was a blast testing these recipes – thank you to everyone who took the time to send in your favorites.

And at the risk of sounding cheesy, these two days were highly educational. I learned a lot about you guys! You aren’t afraid to experiment with alternative ingredients – something I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I haven’t been so open to. 

But by testing out your recipes, you forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to discover a whole new world of healthy possibilities. Almond meal is a flavorful (and protein-rich!) alternative to flour, and I’ll definitely be subbing out butter every once in a while for some fragrant coconut oil, which is chock-full of healthy fats.

I learned that you guys like to keep it simple in the kitchen – something I, too, practice at home. You prefer classic breads, muffins, cookies and cakes (the kind of desserts we all grew up on) to overly fancy dishes. You’ve created inventive ways to remake these classics by using healthier alternatives, so you can feel good serving them to your friends and family. Knowing this will help me better select the kind of recipes you want to see in our regular dessert feature, ‘Happy Ending.’

As the icing on the cake, this recipe testing opportunity was the perfect excuse to explore my neighborhood. A few of the recipes I tested out called for ingredients that weren’t available at my regular supermarket, so I trekked down my street to check out some of the smaller grocery stores that I’ve been meaning to explore but just couldn’t find the time. 

Not only was I pleasantly surprised to find everything I needed, but I’ve completely fallen in love with my neighborhood again! Who would have known such amazing stores were just minutes from my doorstep? I highly recommend you do the same with your own neighborhood. It’s easy to fall into the ease of the major supermarkets, but getting to know your local shop owners is a great way to spend an afternoon. 

Be sure to check out our January/February 2013 issue for the top winning recipes (on newsstands December 25!). Our top picks had the whole CE team oohing and aahing with every bite – and I’m sure your family will feel the same!