Overnight, Work Week Oatmeal with optional protein boost

I love oats!  Ask my family and coworkers, and they will all attest to the fact that I eat oats 6-7 days per week!  Why?  Well, oats are like a creamy white canvas waiting to be filled in with a multitude of vibrant colors and all varieties of yummy flavors. Plus, oats happen to benefit the body, and your budget, in a multitude of ways.  Due to the versatility of oats, and its low cost per day (about .45 cents per ½ cup rolled oats), you, like me, might consider making delicious and nutritious oats part of your daily menu rotation.   

If your idea of oatmeal is cooked plain with a smattering of brown sugar and cinnamon, you are missing out on the full potentiality of oats. Think of the ingredients of your favorite quick bread varieties, such as banana nut, peanut butter chocolate chip, strawberry pecan, to name a few, that can easily be stirred into oats. However, it doesn’t have to end there. 

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

One of my favorite steel cut oats recipes is made with spinach, mushrooms, and a few key spices cooked which is then cooked to savory perfection.  Then, there is another recipe for tropical rolled oats that includes coconut milk, mango, banana, and pineapple that make your taste buds want to tango. And, that’s just the tip of the, well, oat bowl.  

In addition to oats’ versatility, oats benefit your health in a number of ways as demonstrated in numerous studies and a wide array of articles. In fact, due to oats’ high nutritional value, the Food and Drug Administration permits the use of health claims on oat food-labels, boasting its ability to reduce coronary disease. However, the regular consumption of oats does more than benefit your heart.  It can also:

  • Manage type II diabetes
  • Lower LDL cholesterol
  • Offer high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Help manage a healthy weight
  • Maintain a healthy gut bacteria
  • Reduce/ease constipation
  • Reduce colon cancer risk
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Are you someone who practices intermittent fasting?

Oats can be a healthy part of that protocol as well!  For example, I mostly eat two meals a day at this point in my life.  My first meal of the day occurs around a typical lunch time, so I make it brunch!  I start with a cup of veggie sticks, followed by some sort of fresh fruit, and end with a bowl of warm, creamy oats.  This meal is incredibly tasty, oh-so-satisfying, and keeps me energized until dinner.

Does making oats daily seem like too much of a time commitment?

I understand!  I also lead a fairly busy and active life.  Therefore, I set aside one day per week for food prep, which is usually Sunday afternoon, but it can be any other day of the week as long as it works for your schedule. 

Photo by Alexander Mils on Pexels.com

On Sunday afternoon, I clean, cut, divide into containers, and stow away all my veggies in the crisper for the week.  I keep it simple, usually a mix of carrots, celery, and sugar snap peas, but it can honestly be any veggies you like that will remain fresh. Then, I typically take bags of frozen fruits and divvy them up into lunch containers, and also store them in the fridge. 

Next, I set out six containers for oats, and I begin filling them–first, with dry ingredients, followed by liquids. After liquids are added to each container, I give it a good shake, ensuring all ingredients are mixed well.  If using nut butter, I add a dollop of it to the top of the oat mixture after shaking, and reseal the lid. All six oat containers then get stored in the fridge.  The entire prep process, from veggies to fruit to oats, typically takes less than an hour, and I have a daily lunch ready to go for Monday through Saturday, which can often be a hectic day.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

 Consider my recipe for Overnight Work Week Oats as scaffolding, and begin to experiment with building your own oat-bowl variations.  Typically, I try to have steel cut three days per week and old-fashioned rolled oats the other three.  My preferred oat bowl variations are mostly sweet, but I do branch out with other tasty profiles on occasion.

 I hope my approach to oats, and even weekly food prep, encourages and inspires you to create your own quick and easy formula for healthy workday meals that will scrumptiously nourish your body and benefit your budget too!

From my home to yours, I wish you health and vitality!

Overnight, Work Week Oatmeal cups, with optional protein boost

Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats if you have a gluten intolerance/allergy or have celiac disease

Ingredients:

½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats or ¼ cup steel cut oats

1-2 tablespoon seeds, such as, chia, flax, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds . . . 

1-2 tablespoons nuts or nut butter, such as walnuts, slivered almonds, pecans, peanut butter, almond butter, and so forth

½-1 scoop protein powder, optional

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 teaspoon maple syrup; or, for less sugar, ½ teaspoon maple extract 

½ teaspoon cinnamon as well as ¼ teaspoon other desired spice(s)

1 cup favorite milk or water, add more or less, depending upon how thick you like your oatmeal

Optional toppings: Fresh fruits, such as, blueberries, strawberries, sliced banana, to name a few; dried fruits, such as, raisins, dried cranberries, goji berries; or sweet touches, such as, chocolate chips, honey drizzle, sprinkles, or any other sweet tastes you prefer

Directions:

In a single serving bowl, add in all ingredients, adjusting milk as needed.  (I prefer one cup, but you may like less or more.)

Stir or shake well.

Store in the fridge until ready to eat for up to a week. (The longer it is stored in the fridge, the creamier it gets.)

Can be eaten cold or heated in a microwave for 2-4 minutes.

Cover with lid or an inverted plate for 3+ minutes to allow absorption of liquid.

Remove and add any desired toppings.

Serves 1 

(Can be doubled or tripled or made ahead of time as described above.)

Note: For my photographs below, my oatmeal was made with: oats, ¼ cup frozen riced cauliflower, ¼ cup pumpkin puree, ½ cup blueberries, chia seed, vanilla protein powder, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla & maple extracts, soy milk, and topped with peanut butter & chocolate chips for a weekend treat

Pumpkin oatmeal flax oatmeal
Pumpkin blueberry oatmeal with buried goji berries
Banana, peanut butter, and chocolate chip oatmeal with hidden goji berries

Spinach-Artichoke Dip with plant-based and gluten-free options

“Popeye was right about spinach: dark green, leafy vegetables are the healthiest food on the planet. As whole foods go, they offer the most nutrition per calorie.”–Michael Gregor

“You’re not going to believe what I ate, Mom!”

I was talking with my daughter, Madelyn, on the phone.  She is attending graduate school, and she was describing a dinner that a friend had prepared for one evening during a break from her studies.  

“Spinach and artichoke dip!  Not only that, Mom, but it was vegan, and it was surprisingly good . . . and you know how funny I am about texture and taste.”

Maddie went on to insist that I would have to make this dip when she was home for the holidays.  In fact, she had already asked her friend to share the recipe with her, so she could send it to me.  She went on to explain how her friend has lupus, and eats an anti-inflammatory diet that focuses heavily on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a few select whole grains in order to reduce her inflammation.  

As I listened to her continue to describe the dip, my mind was already thinking about the ways I could adapt the recipe.  I was eager to, ahem, dip into reading various plant forward recipes and techniques in order to create my own version.  Not only did I want to make the dip in honor of my daughter’s request, but also because the dip is largely made up of two of my favorite vegetables: spinach and artichokes.

Photo by Jacqueline Howell on Pexels.com

Maddie’s friend was on to something.  Both artichokes and spinach are highly anti-inflammatory.  Spinach, specifically, is chock full of vitamins, such as A, K and C, and it also contains folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, and small amounts of other B vitamins. It is high in fiber and low in calories.  Spinach is also high in antioxidants, supports brain and eye health, has been shown to protect against certain diseases, and helps to lower blood pressure when regularly consumed.  

Photo by Andie on Pexels.com

Artichokes are no joke either. They, too, are full of vitamins, including folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, as well as vitamins K and C.  Like spinach, artichokes are high in fiber, full of antioxidants, and have been shown, when consumed daily, to help regulate blood pressure. Additionally, artichokes promote liver health and are a unique source of prebiotics, which are beneficial gut bacteria that can boost immunity, assist in digestion, and benefit mood.

Of course, I can share all the benefits of these two nutritional, anti-inflammatory powerhouses, but let’s be honest, for most people, myself included, it’s all about the taste. Does this dip taste good, in addition to being made with beneficial ingredients?  Is it worthy of being shared with others?   

I had my favorite taste tasters, and pickiest eaters, Maddie, and my husband, John, taste the dip, and miracle of all miracles, they both liked it!  Maddie, the pickiest of the two, said she loved it just as I made it.  Her only wish was that we had baguette crackers like her friend served it with.  John, typically not as picky, filled up and ate a big soup bowl worth of dip; however, he added both parmesan and mozzarella cheese to his bowl because he, “wouldn’t want to eat too healthy over the holidays!”  Meanwhile, I served up the dip on a plain baked potato for my dinner, and let me just say that was one tasty dish!

Whether you make it with, or without dairy, you’re still packing a healthy punch of powerful, propitious plants. Serve it up for your next favorite gathering and watch it disappear.  No one ever has to know the dip benefits their health too! 

From my home to yours, may you have a prosperous and healthy 2023.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Plant-based with dairy-free and gluten-free options

Ingredients

1 cup (raw) cashews, soaked overnight or at least 4+ hours

1 ¼  cup Greek or plant-based Greek yogurt (can substitute with mayonnaise)

¼ cup water

12-16 ounces (1 package) frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 14 ounce can artichokes, drained and chopped

⅓ cup finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon

1 teaspoon braggs liquid aminos (or soy sauce, if don’t need gluten free)

 ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon pepper

Optional additions: Mix in up to 4 ounces or ½  cup of any of the following ingredients:

cream cheese (or vegan variation), parmesan/romano/pecorino cheese, soft goat cheese, and/or mozzarella cheese, if desired

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Coat a small casserole dish with cooking spray (2 quart size).

In a food processor or high speed blender, blend cashews, yogurt and water until creamy, about 1-2 minutes.

Add cashew mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Spread dip evenly in the casserole dish.

*Bake 20-30 minutes, or until top turns golden brown

Serve warm with veggies, tortilla chips, crackers, smear over your favorite toasted bread, or even a baked potato.

Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Serve warm with crackers, tortilla chips, or baguette chips

*Serves 6-10 as appetizer

Get into the holiday baking mood with Banana Strawberry Bread with optional chocolate chips–with gluten-free and vegan options

“As long as you know how to bake, life is sure to be sweet!”–Unknown

One Sunday afternoon this past summer, I was talking with my Dad via phone as he now lives in Florida.  He shared that after church service, a fellow worshiper shared slices of homemade strawberry bread with others.  Listening to Dad, I decided to add “strawberry bread” to my list of writing/cooking ideas.  Of course, Dad was not surprised.

It took some trial and error, but I think I found the sweet spot.  Of course, when I bake, I am trying to meet unique dietary needs.  Selfishly, I prefer baking recipes that have the ability to be gluten free due to my celiac disease; however, I also like to find versatile ingredient scaffolding for those that can safely consume wheat.  Furthermore, I choose to eat plant-based; therefore, I also like to play with ingredients that offer that option as well.  Bottom line, however, if it tastes good and is easy to make, most people don’t care if it’s gluten-free and/or plant-based. 

Photo by solod_sha on Pexels.com

The recipe all came together after picking up a grocery order one day only to discover I was given extremely ripe, fully brown bananas instead of bright yellow.  Once I saw those bananas, I knew how I wanted to create my own version of strawberry bread.  I took further inspiration from The Big Man’s World website.  

Strawberries and bananas are complementary and commonly paired in many food items, such as drink mixes, smoothies, yogurts, fruit-cups, and so forth.  Additionally, bananas are one way to bake without eggs to bind ingredients together into a batter with a creamy texture and balanced moisture composition.  Furthermore, bananas add a subtle sweetness to baking recipes that tends to compliment many ingredients.  

Photo by Kimona on Pexels.com

When baking without eggs, I also add a tablespoon of vinegar.  This depression era egg replacement reacts with the baking soda to create carbon dioxide that helps baked goods rise as they bake.  Plus, vinegar overall improves bread texture, whether baking with or without eggs.

You may notice that I use date sugar in this recipe, although it can be replaced with your preferred form of sugar. Date sugar is considered less processed due to the fact that it is made from dried dates pulverized into a powder; therefore, it retains much of its fiber and nutrients.  That said, don’t be fooled, it is still sugar, and like any sweetener, it should be consumed in moderation.

If you like to bake for the holiday season, this bread will lend itself to potluck gatherings, as it can be made a day or two ahead of time.  It would also make a nice holiday gift or simply a fun weekend addition to brunch.  It stores well, becoming more moist with age. I have toasted leftover slices of it in my air-fryer and reheated it in the microwave–either way works.  Plus, you can substitute your favorite chopped nuts in lieu of the chocolate chips–I just happen to like chocolate!  It’s tasty plain or smeared with butter or cream cheese as my daughter and husband  do or with your favorite nut butter, as I like to do.

This recipe is versatile, using fresh or frozen fruit. (Hint: I save all over-ripe bananas–and even strawberries–in a freezer bag in my freezer and pull out what I need anytime I’m baking!) Notice all the ways I offer substitutions for the original ingredients I used, so that you can meet your own individual needs/taste preferences.  Sprinkle the top of the batter with crystallized or festive-colored sugar before baking if desired and find ways to make this recipe your own!

From my home to yours, here’s to holiday baking!

Banana Strawberry Bread with optional chocolate chips

 with gluten free and vegan options

Ingredients

2 cups oat flour, can replace with all-purpose or gluten free flour

1/2 cup date sugar, can replace with regular or brown sugar

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cup mashed banana (about 2 bananas)

1/4 cup applesauce, can replace with oil or melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup milk, dairy or non-dairy work

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

½ + ¼  cup + sliced strawberries, frozen or fresh

¼  cup + 1 tablespoon chocolate chips, gluten free and/or vegan; 

(can replace chocolate chips with chopped nuts)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prepare loaf by spraying with nonstick cooking spray

Mash banana and set aside

In a large mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients

Stir in remaining ingredients, including banana, into the dry EXCEPT for strawberries and chocolate chips

Fold in ½ cup of sliced strawberries and ¼ cup of chocolate chips

Pour batter into loaf pan

Top with remaining strawberries and chocolate chips

Bake for 50-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

Cool in pan for 10 or so minutes, use spatula to gently lift out of the loaf pan.

Finish cooling on wire rack

Slice to serve.

Can be kept in an airtight container, once completely cooled, in the fridge for up to five days.

Can also be stored in a ziplock freezer bag and frozen for up to 3 months.

In a large bowl stir together dry ingredients and make a well in the center. Then set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together wet ingredients.
Pour wet ingredients into the center of dry ingredients and mix with spoon until blended.
Finally, stir in sliced (or chopped, if preferred) strawberries and chocolate chips or nuts.
Bake in oven, and allow it to cool in pan at least 10 minutes before using a spatula to gently lift out loaf. Set loaf on cooling rack, and allow it to continue to cool.
Slice it up and eat it plain or with your favorite toppings, such as maple syrup, honey, nut butter, butter, or cream cheese to name a few.
Personally, I love nut butter smeared on a heated slice and allow the warmth of the bread to melt it.

Rice Krispie Air Fryer French Toast

“What does the best man at a French wedding do?”

“Make French toast!”

“Why is the French Toast the best team in the baseball game?”

“Because they have the best batter!”

Rice Krispie french toast sticks with melted peanut butter. Gluten-free and vegan options available!

Okay, I’ll try to stop, but in my defense, it’s way past my breadtime as I write this. My mind is crumbling, but I am not toast yet. There are still some ideas left in me, although I think they may be a bit stale. Perhaps, I should settle down, wrap up in a blanket, get warm and toasty, and go to bed to stop all this syrupy humor!

In all seriousness, National French Toast Day is November 28, 2022.  So why write about it in October?  Because I began playing with this recipe in September to, well, toast my birthday! It took several incarnations to get the recipe right, and I wanted to give you, Dear Reader, ample time to experiment with this recipe before the big toasty day.

You say you haven’t heard of National French Toast day?  Well, you’re in good company because neither had I until recently.  How did this obscure holiday come to be?  Based upon my research, no one source seems to know.  However, I did learn some interesting facts about a sweet and savory dish that is a weekend favorite food for many.

Rice Krispie French toast sticks smeared with chocolate powdered peanut butter, topped with strawberries, mixed berries, and chocolate chips!

The origin of French toast is debatable.  One source dated it back to a collection of 4th or 5th century Latin recipes.  While another source dated this eggcellent dish back to sixteenth century Europe. Additionally, the French were historically known for reclaiming old, stale bread, dipping it in egg batter, and frying it up.

It’s been known under a wide variety of names such as, “poor knights pudding,” “pain perdu,” “eggy bread,” and “French fried bread” to name a few.  The name, “French toast,” according to one popular Maryland breakfast restaurant, first appeared in American print in 1871, in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink. Regardless of its origins, or name given to this recipe, most of us can agree, French toast is one delicious dish of tasty goodness.

There are many variations for making French toast, but the basic formula includes bread, dipped in batter, typically made out of eggs and milk, and fried in a pan.  Some recipes call for added seasonings such as vanilla and nutmeg, while others call for rich cream and egg yolks with a dash of cinnamon.  Other recipes insist on thick bread, while others aren’t as picky.  

While reading through numerous recipes for French toast, I saw variations in cooking methodology.  Some cooks swear by frying in oil, while others enthusiastically endorse butter.  There were several variations of baked French toast, and even recipes that call for frying up the batter-dipped bread, then dipping it again in the batter, and baking it up.  I even found several French toast casserole recipes that made my mouth water.

Rice Krispie French toast smeared with chocolate powdered peanut butter and topped with strawberries, blueberries, mango, and chocolate chips.

This recipe uses an airfryer, and it offers variations for those with Celiac disease like me (hence the use of gluten free bread and crispy rice cereal).  I personally made this plant based as well by using non-dairy milk and a plant based liquid egg replacement, but that is a highly personal choice that may not be your preference.  The point is, the recipe is flexible and can meet a wide variety of dietary needs.  Plus, using the airfryer, rather than a butter or oil, can be a healthier option for those needing to cut back on dietary fat.  That being said, this recipe can be prepared in the traditional frying manner with butter or oil.

The use of Rice Krispies was intentionally designed for fun; after all, I created this recipe in honor of my own birthday.  I personally loved the way it added extra texture, visual interest, and the taste did not detract from the overall flavor of the batter.  In fact, the cereal gave the recipe a fun and festive vibe that made my inner-child, who needed to be honored on her birthday, smile!

Rather than wait for National French Toast day, why not give this recipe a try?

From my home to yours, I toast to your health and cooking endeavors! 

Rice Krispie Airfryer French Toast sticks

with gluten free and vegan options

Ingredients:

3 large eggs or plant based equivalent

½ cup favorite milk, dairy or non-dairy

1 tablespoon maple syrup

½  teaspoon vanilla extract

¼  teaspoon nutmeg, optional

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 cup Rice Krispies 

4 slices of thicker bread, cut into “sticks” (gluten free if needed)

Directions:

In a small shallow pan, stir together egg, milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, nutmeg (if using), and salt.  

On a separate plate or shallow dish, spread out Rice Krispies.

Dip bread into batter mixture.

Press battered bread into cereal twice, coating both sides.

Place battered and coated bread sticks into the airfryer, without overlapping, into a single layer.

Turn the airfryer on 375 degrees and cook for 7-8 minutes. 

Repeat the process, if needed, until all “sticks” are cooked.

Keep “sticks” warm until ready to serve.

Top with favorite toppings, syrups, spreads, and/or fruits.

Serve immediately. 

Serves 2.

Recipes can be doubled or tripled if needed.

Refrigerate leftovers for up to three days.

Cut your bread into “sticks”.

You’ll need a few basics to make this gluten and plant based if needed/desired.

First, dip bread into batter.
Next, pressed batter-dipped bread onto Rice Krispies.
Cook up in an air-fryer for 7-8 minutes, or until desired brownness and texture reached. Then add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Muffins, gluten-free, plant-based options

Procrastibaking: the art of making muffins instead of whatever else you should be doing.”–as seen on INTO THE COOKIE JAR

I had work to do, but there it sat.  The lone, leftover banana.  Muddled and marred by dark brown spots, hiding its inner-sweetness.  Too mushy to eat, but perfect for baking.  But what?

Nosing around in my cabinets, I noticed a partial bag of chocolate chips.  Hmm?  Maybe I could bake chocolate chip cookies, but would I be able to use a banana in it?  Not sure if that would work, at least regarding taste.  Then, it hit me like a Monday morning: muffins!

Photo by Anton Uniqueton on Pexels.com

I was pretty sure that I had once read that bananas can be used as a substitute for an egg in a recipe.  Sure enough, for once, my memory was correct. One banana equals one egg. Now don’t get me wrong, bananas cannot do everything an egg can do when baking, but in a recipe such as this one, where I am also including vinegar and baking soda, bananas are a decent substitute.  

Speaking of vinegar . . . Why add it to baking?  Historically speaking, vinegar has been used in baking for centuries.  One such example was during the Great Depression when rations, such as eggs and butter, were limited.  One teaspoon of baking soda combined with one tablespoon of vinegar makes baked goods light and fluffy.  Even if you are using an egg, adding one tablespoon of vinegar to a cake, cookie, or bread recipe will help batter rise, increase moisture, and even brighten the color.  

Photo by Rosana Solis on Pexels.com

Regarding flours, you will notice that I chose a combination of two different types as well as oat bran.  This was an intentional choice due to the fact that I have celiac disease, so I cannot consume wheat.  Additionally, I wanted to increase the fiber/nutritional content of these muffins while keeping the texture light and fluffy side.  Think of it as a compromise–balancing out the white flour and sugar with the nutritional profile of oats!  Plus, I happen to like baking with oats and oat flour due to the texture and moisture oats tend to create while not lending an overpowering flavor.  Nonetheless, you could use almond flour, rice flour, or other preferred varieties. In fact, you could simply use nothing but all-purpose flour if that is your preference.  As long as the total amount of flour remains the same, most flours should be fine!

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Finally, feel free to play around with the stir-ins.  There’s up to one cup total, so make the recipe yours.  Stir in raisins, walnuts, peanut butter chips, dried cranberries, chopped dates, butterscotch chips, chopped pecans, and so forth.  Make the recipe fit both your taste preferences and/or the ingredients you have on hand. 

Once these muffins are baked and cool enough to serve, slather one with butter or your favorite nut butter.  Dip them in maple syrup–who says it’s for pancakes only?  Drizzle agave or honey over the tops.  Then again, eat ‘em plain–after all, they will be plenty moist! 

Customize this recipe, and make it work for you and yours!  Then, hit me up on social media, or send me an email, and let me know what variation worked for you!  In the meantime, enjoy procrastibaking! 🙂  

Chocolate Chip Muffins, with gluten-free, plant based options

Recipe inspired by Betty Crocker’s 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook Betty Crocker’s Cookbook/40th Anniversary Edition Hardcover – September 1, 1991,

Allergy AwesomenessRhian’s Recipes, HealthyGirl Kitchen

Ingredients:

¾  cup oat flour*

¾ cup oat bran*

1 cup all purpose flour, gluten-free flour*

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ripe banana

1 cup milk, any variation

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ -1 cup chocolate chips, gluten-free and/or vegan if desired/needed

½ cup chopped walnuts, optional

Sparkling sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line 12 muffin tins with parchment paper or nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Mash banana in a medium bowl.

Stir in milk, sugar, vanilla, and vinegar.

Gently combine liquid ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.

Fold in chocolate chips and/or nuts, if using.

Divide batter evenly among cups.

Top with extra chips, and/or sprinkle with sparkling sugar, if desired.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

Allow muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.

Serve immediately.

Can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days, or can freeze for up to 3 months.

After refrigerating or freezing muffins, reheat muffins before serving.

Makes 12. 

*Notes: Feel free to mix and match types of flours, and even leave out the bran, to suit your needs/taste preferences as long as the total amount of flour used equals 2 ½ cups.  Additionally, while I have to bake/eat gluten free and choose to eat plant based, you choose the ingredients that match your preferences.  Finally, you can use an egg, ¼ cup applesauce, or ¼ cup yogurt to replace the banana if desired or don’t have a banana on hand.

You’ll need two bowls.
Mix your dry ingredients in one bowl.
Mash your banana well.
Stir in wet ingredients with banana.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and gently mix.
Be sure to preheat oven and prepare muffin tins. I prefer parchment liners.
Stir in those luscious chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly and top with desired toppings. I added mini chocolate chips and white sugar.
Allow muffins to cool on a rack, but feel free to serve warm!

Enjoy the yummy results of procrastibaking!

Watermelon Replenisher

“The USDA has found that watermelon actually stimulates the release of excel perspiration, so heat stroke will not be on your radar so long as you have a cold one in your hands.”11 Foods That Help Prevent Heat Stroke | Eat This Not That

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It’s that time of year, back to school.  With the start of school comes all of the fall team sports’ practices in the August heat and humidity.  From band camp to preseason soccer practice and all other sports in between, it is the sweaty time of year!  With all that sweat comes the risk of dehydration.  Despite coaches’ best efforts to encourage kids to drink, athletes often leave August practices depleted of essential fluids, salts, and electrolytes.

In fact, according to the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietician Association, the average athlete loses about 1-3 liters of sweat per hour of intense physical activity. With that loss of sweat is also salt, specifically, depending upon the size of the athlete, anywhere from 1,380 to 5,520 mg of salt per hour. Along with water and salt, the athlete is also losing significant amounts of chloride and potassium as well as smaller amounts of magnesium and calcium. 

Photo by Liliana Drew on Pexels.com

What’s more, losing as little as two percent of body weight in sweat can impede an athlete’s performance. Therefore, it is important for athletes to remember to hydrate before, during, and after practice.  Maintaining electrolyte balance throughout the day is especially crucial when an athlete participates in two-per-day practices, which are often popular during the month of August. 

Of course, electrolytes can be found in a wide variety of prepackaged sports drinks, but they can also be found in whole food sources. Salt is particularly easy to find by simply adding salt to foods and beverages; however, it can also be found in nuts/trail mixes, pretzels, and crackers.  Meanwhile, broccoli, almonds, yogurt, and milk products are good sources of calcium, while peanut butter, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, spinach, and beans (legumes) are high in magnesium. Potassium can be found in peaches, potatoes, kiwi, banana, dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and watermelon! 

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Recently, my daughter, Maddie, came home red-face and sweat-soaked after an intense out-of-doors workout session.  While she’s more than old enough to take care of herself, I couldn’t help but feel concerned about her level of hydration and asked what she thought about watermelon slushie.  I asked this because I knew she loved watermelon, and I suspected it would be a refreshing way to rehydrate.  She liked the idea, so we talked about what a watermelon slushie could include, and together we came up with a recipe.

Obviously, the main ingredient had to be watermelon. But what else, if anything, should be added?  Maddie suggested collagen powder because it is a great source of protein and would not detract away from the taste-star of the show, watermelon.  Of course, if it was going to be a slushie, we both knew it would also need ice. Then, she suggested lime juice–not too much, just a hint of it, and she further suggested sweetening it up a bit with a teaspoon of sugar combined with a packet of her favorite stevia brand.  We threw it all together in a blender and hoped for the best!

It turned out better than we had hoped! We have since made it three more times and have found, the sweeter and riper the watermelon, the better the slushie. However, we did learn a couple of taste notes. First, if you are not a salt with watermelon person, don’t add the salt.  Secondly, too much lime can overwhelm the slushie, especially if you are not particularly fond of the flavor of lime.

On the nutritional side, it is worth noting that watermelon is nearly 92 percent water! In addition to being high in potassium, it is also a good source of magnesium and calcium. It contains l-citrulline which may help alleviate muscle soreness associated with intense exercise.  Furthermore, watermelon is a good source of a multitude of vitamins and antioxidants making it a fantastic exercise recovery fuel! 

Here’s to all those summer athletes of ALL ages.  No matter what age, if you’re exercising or working out-of-doors in the August heat, then you’re sure to be sweating! So rehydrate with the sweetheart of summer fruits:  watermelon.  And, if you’re feeling a little frisky, you could also make this recipe and add in a splash or two of your favorite adult spirits for a cool, light-hearted, and refreshing cocktail hour on the home patio or deck.  

Regardless of the variation you choose to make, stay safe and hydrated during these dog days of summer.  

A beautiful flower arrangement by and from my daughter alongside her Watermelon Replenisher.

Maddie’s Watermelon Replenisher

Ingredients:

4 cups cubed, seedless–or seeds removed– watermelon

2 servings favorite collagen powder (can substitute vegan version or scoop unflavored protein powder)

2-4 packets of Stevia or other favorite sweetener (can substitute 2-4 teaspoons of sugar or use a combination of the two, which is what we do)

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon lime juice–depending upon taste preference

Dash of salt, if you’re a “salt on watermelon” person

2-3 cups of ice

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in blender until slushy consistency.

Divide into two large glasses.

Garnish with lime slice or mint leaves if desired.

Makes 2 large or 4 small slushies

Photo by Huynh Phong on Pexels.com

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Apple Crisp: A sneaky and sweet way to use an overabundance of zucchini

Summertime Farmer’s Market Dessert

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”–Jim Davis

There is an oft repeated cautionary tale reminding parishioners to lock their car doors during the summer months when attending worship services.  Otherwise, when you return after service, your car will have been gifted all the extra, and unwanted, zucchinis from a neighbor’s garden!  

My mom recently repeated that story to me, and it made me think of my grandmother, her mother, Helen.  As a child, my siblings and I often stayed with my maternal grandparents during the summer months, and we came to know much of the ins and outs of their life.  This understanding of their life grew even greater during a two year stint in which I lived with them, as a young adult.  And, that day-to-day life revolved around projects/chores around the house, their church community, family, and most importantly, mealtimes–with special emphasis on summertime produce for freezing, canning, and, of course, eating! 

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

For example, during the summer months as a child, Pappaw grew a garden, as did all of their neighbors and fellow church community. Throughout the summer Pappaw gave extra vegetables to neighbors and friends.  In return, they reciprocated with their bounty.  Their in-home summer diet was supplemented with regular trips to a nearby produce stand, one town over from the little community in which they lived.  

Therefore, even though, as a young child, I grew up surrounded by distinct aromas, vibrant colors, and a wide variety of shapes of summer produce.  Half-runner beans, strung and broken into pieces cooking on the stove in a pressure cooker; sweet ears of corn on the cob, shucked, boiled and ready to be served up with tubs of “oleo;” glass jars of a neighbor’s sorghum syrup ready to be drizzled over biscuits, fresh bell peppers–although they called them “mangos”–chopped and ready for salads, sauces, or other recipes, and thinly sliced beefsteak tomatoes sprinkled with salt were common weekly summer meal features. Summer desserts featured strawberry shortcakes and blackberry cobblers, as each of those fruits came into season.  Other summertime desserts included watermelon wedges cold and salted, along with fresh summer melons, cut in half, and filled with ice cream or cottage cheese.

Photo by Quintin Gellar on Pexels.com

Then came the two years that I lived with them.  No longer were my grandparents able to grow, manage, and maintain their garden, but it didn’t stop their neighbors and community members from sharing the bounty of their gardens with them.  Cue stage right, enter the oversized zucchini–countless oversized zucchini covering the kitchen counter from well-meaning garden-growing church community members!

Grandmother would cut up those zucchinis with fresh peppers, onion, and tomatoes.  Then, she’d season them and cook ‘em all up together–sometimes on the stovetop, like a stew, and sometimes in the oven with cheese and bread crumbs on top.  Her favorite variation was something she called zucchini boats in which she sliced large zucchinis in half, smothered each half in spaghetti sauce, sprinkled the sauce with parmesan, and baked them until golden brown in the oven. Finally, Grandmother Helen also baked zucchini breads and zucchini cakes–sheet or layer with cream cheese or buttercream icing.  Therefore, I absolutely believe that she would have loved the recipe that follows.

Photo by Les Bourgeonniers on Pexels.com

Here’s to my grandparents’ summer time vegetable meal memories. And remember, if life gives you lemons, I mean zucchinis, then here’s a way to turn them into a sweet, summertime dessert!  It may have you saying, “I can’t believe it’s not apple crisp!”  

P.S. Be sure to tag me on social media, or reach out to me via email if you make this!

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Apple Crisp:

Summertime Farmer’s Market Dessert

Gluten-Free and Vegan Options

Ingredients:

Filling:

6 cups peeled, deseeded (if large) and cubed (think thick pineapple chunks) zucchini* (About 5 medium store-sized zucchini/squash)

½ cup sugar or pure maple syrup

¼ cup lemon juice

1 ½  teaspoon apple pie spice (Can substitute with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼  teaspoon nutmeg, & ⅛ teaspoon allspice)

2 tablespoons all purpose flour, gluten-free if needed

Streusel Topping:

1 cup oats

¾ cup all-purpose flour, gluten-free if needed

¾ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup cold butter, cut into pieces (can use vegan variety)

Directions:

Peel and cube zucchini.

Over medium heat, add prepared zucchini and all filling ingredients EXCEPT flour.

Allow to cook down, approximately 10-20 minutes, or until zucchini chunks are super soft when pressed with a spoon.   

Stir in flour and allow to cook 3-5 more minutes, or until flour has been well incorporated and filling has thickened.  

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray 8×8 or 9×9 square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon until well blended. 

Cut in cold butter into mixture, using a fork or pastry blender, until crumbly, careful not to overmix. Set aside.

Spread zucchini filling mixture evenly into prepared baking pan.

Sprinkle with streusel topping mixture.

Bake 30-45 minutes, or until topping is crispy, golden brown and juices are bubbling along edges.

Allow to cool 15-20 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 generous servings or 9 smaller servings.

Feel free to top with favorite ice cream or whipped topping if desired.

*Feel free to experiment with other summer squashes, such as, yellow squash, crookneck squash, pattypan, cousa squash, and zephyr varieties 

Peel zucchini 🥒

Cut them up into pineapple chunk size.
MIx the filling up, add it to pot, and cook it down.
MIx together dry ingredients for streusel.
Cut cold butter into streusel mixture.
Bake it up until top is crispy and golden brown, and the juices are bubbling around the edges/sides.
Serve it up, once cooled!

Here's a sweet way to get a serving of vegetables in, and it will also help you use up all of those zucchinis your neighbors love to share! 🥒
With or without topping, you won’t believe it’s not apple crisp!

Reese of Mind Donuts (gluten-free, egg-free, & dairy-free options)

“Fresh popcorn is near impossible to resist, second only to fresh donuts.”–Shannon Wiersbitzky, What Flowers Remember 

For years, I watched with glazed eyes as others enjoyed donuts. 

Donut go breaking my heart!” I would say to friends and family as they enjoyed their orbs of confectionary perfection. 

Donut worry, be happy!” They would reply, driving me glazy as they handed me a gluten free granola bar. “It’s hole-some.”  While I donut want to be ungrateful for their thoughtfulness, a granola bar donut really have a hole of my taste buds.  

I donut have to circle around these orbs of deliciousness.

After years of circling around all of those boxes of glaziness, watching others enjoy those holesome spheres of sweetness, I declared to myself, “Donut let them kill your vibe, Steph!  You can simply create your own glaze-of-glory confection!

Away in the solitude of my home work space, feeling glazed and confused, I did what any self-respecting donut-deprived punster would do, scroll the internet for recipe inspiration.  I donut, I mean, would not, stop believin’ that I could create a glazy alternative–one that was as close to being as hole food as possible with gluten-free, plant based ingredients.  Donut tell me I can’t! 

Ooey-gooey peanut buttery goodness!!

Thus, my holesome quest began.  Since then, I have created recipes for Blueberry Lemon-drop donuts and Chocolate donuts with chocolate glaze.  So what makes this recipe different from the previous chocolate donut recipe?  This recipe comes with the reese of mind that the ingredients are all holesome AND has the added benefit of protein and oats. 

Well, maybe the chocolate chips and powdered sugar aren’t particularly as healthy as some of the other ingredients?  But holey-moley, donut judge me.  You can just glaze over that part! Besides I am fairly certain I sense reesent traces of confectioners sugar on your lips!

Enjoy this gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free wonder without any worry of stomach upset!

While these donuts may not bring world reese, they may have your taste buds singing, “Hole me closer, tiny donut.”  May this recipe, or should I say, reese-ipe really get a hole of you, and may you love them a hole lot!

P. S. Reese and desist from blaming me for all of the bad puns, I may have eaten one too many drunkin’ donuts! 

Donut cry anymore when the donut box gets passed around, fellow celiacs. You can make your own!

Reese of Mind Donuts  (gluten-free, egg-free, & dairy-free options)

Donut Ingredients:

¾ cup oat flour (Can use regular oats and used food processor to make it flour)

1 serving chocolate protein powder (I use plant protein.) 

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

2-3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup applesauce or yogurt

½ cup milk (I use plant based.)

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: ¼ cup chopped Reese’s pieces 

Glaze Ingredients:

1 tablespoon melted butter or coconut oil (I use plant based butter.)

3 tablespoon natural peanut butter, melted

½  teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ – ½ + cup powdered sugar

2+ tablespoons milk (I use plant based.) 

Batter will be thick, but easy to spoon into donut molds.

Donut Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat 6-donut pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, protein powder, cocoa powder, flax seed, sugar, baking soda and salt) until well combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (vinegar, applesauce, milk, and vanilla).

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix–batter should look/feel thick.  If using chopped Reese’s pieces, gently stir them with wet ingredients.

Divide batter evenly among donut molds.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before turning over onto cooling rack.

They’re actually tasty without any glaze or chopped reese’s pieces stirred in and with less sugar! However, feel free to drizzle a bit of melted peanut butter on the top if you choose not to glaze!

Glaze Directions:

In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine butter (or oil) and peanut butter.

Warm in microwave until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally to incorporate.

Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar, stir to combine, adding more powdered sugar if desired.

Gradually stir in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired glaze consistency is achieved.

Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over cooled donuts.

Feel free to top donuts with chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles, or crushed Reeses pieces.

Serve immediately.  Can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator, or frozen for up to three months.

These are so easy to make. They will give you gluten-free reese of mind!

Proffee or Protea: Beverage with a boost

“While eating an adequate amount of protein is not going to prevent age-associated loss of muscle altogether, not eating enough protein can be an exacerbating factor that causes older adults to lose muscle faster,” Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University.

Recently, I listened to a podcast with a great deal of information about women’s health concerns after menopause.  I was stunned to hear that after the onset of menopause, women can lose up to 20% of their bone density.  Skeptic that I am, I decided to research this fact. Turns out, according to numerous bodies of research, including several articles cited on the National Library of Medicine, women lose up to 10% of their bone mass within the first five years after menopause. By age 60, according to a 2022 article by the Endocrine Society, most post-menopausal women have indeed experienced 20% bone loss, with one in two women suffering from at least one fracture in their later years of life.  I. Was. Stunned. 

While I’ve always known bone loss was a real thing, I did not realize the rapidity and significance of bone mass loss for post-menopausal women.  Furthermore, I discovered that somewhere between the ages of 65-70, men experience bone loss at approximately the same rate as women, according to the National Institute on Aging. Therefore, both men and women should be concerned about bone loss, especially if wanting to reap the benefits of one’s senior years with a healthy, fully-functioning body.

Photo by Tristan Le on Pexels.com

That said, to those readers in their younger years, according to an article, updated in 2022 by Breastcancer.org, it’s never too early to take extra measures to prevent and/or slow the loss of bone mass, especially if you’re over the age of 30, when the natural loss of bone mass begins.  Common preventative measures for ALL ages include, but are not limited to ensuring a daily intake of calcium through dark leafy greens; fortified milks, juices, and cereals; low-fat dairy products; and/or taking a calcium supplement.  Additional bone maintenance measures include participating regularly in a variety of weight bearing exercises, such as running, walking, hiking, resistance training, weight lifting, and balance exercises; either quit smoking, or don’t start it; limit alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks per day; and maintain a healthy body weight.  Finally, another commonly overlooked item is ensuring consistent consumption of daily protein. 

According to numerous recent articles, including 2019 pieces by the Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Health News, one of the biggest diet changes men and women over the age of 50 should make is increasing the intake of protein to support both muscle and bone health, especially since aging bodies process protein less efficiently. There are many valid reasons cited, but one of the most compelling reasons include reducing the likelihood of the loss of basic functioning, such as dressing self; walking up and down stairs; getting out of bed, bath, shower.  Additionally, increased protein intake helps ward off chronic or acute illness.  Furthermore, if experiencing a serious illness, surgery, or hospitalization, the added protein benefits the body’s ability to more efficiently metabolize protein, which significantly declines in times of stress, such as one experiences during serious health events.  This is especially important in the case of hip or knee replacement, or other similar surgery, in which large muscles will be underused. 

Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

The recommended RDA intake for protein is .8 to 1 gram of protein for every 1 kilogram of body weight (1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds) for the average healthy adult.  However, according to both the Mayo Clinic and KHN, adults over 50, should lean into slightly higher levels, 1-1.2 gram of proteins per 1 kilogram of body weight; however, those with chronic or acute illness or injury, should consider 1.2-1.5!  Ideally, this total amount is consumed throughout the day, with a serving of 25-30 grams of protein at each meal.  While supplements such as protein powders and/or ready-to-drink protein shakes are easy and convenient ways to increase protein to the diet, they should not be the end-all-be-all source of protein.  Instead, focus on consuming a wide array of whole food sources of protein such as lean meats, eggs, soy, nuts/seeds, quinoa, dairy, and beans/lentils.  

If you do choose to supplement with protein, as I am doing once per day, it is important to choose one that is low in sugar and other additives that can be harmful to the body such as heavy metals, thickeners, fillers, and extra ingredients with low nutritional value.  Personally, I look for a protein supplement with as few ingredients as possible that I can read/recognize/know and 20-25 grams of high quality, plant-based protein.  That said, protein supplementation is a highly personal choice, and I encourage you to take time to carefully read labels, research, and choose one wisely.  It should be considered only one tool in the toolbox of healthy nutrition along with consuming a wide variety of whole foods with heavy emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits. 

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Below I am sharing a recipe for my currently favorite way of consuming protein.  It is super quick and easy.  I mix it up in the morning, take it with me to work, and sip on it with my lunch.  You may prefer it for or with breakfast, as an after work-out snack, or an afternoon pick-me-up.  It can be made with regular or decaf coffee or tea.  Personalize the ingredients, and make the recipe yours!

In the meantime, exercise regularly, eat whole foods–including lots of nutritious plants, maintain healthy sleep hygiene, and be mindful of your protein intake.  Here’s to your health and the health of your bones!  May you be strong and healthy for years to come!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Proffee (Protein coffee)

*Ingredients:

4-8 ounces of favorite cold brew coffee

**4-8 ounces favorite milk (plant or dairy)

**4-8 ounces ice and/or water

**1-2 scoops favorite protein powder (I like chocolate flavored for coffee.)

Optional add ins:

½ teaspoon vanilla extract or powder

¼ teaspoon cinnamon or other favorite spice

Favorite sweetener 

Dash of salt

Protea (Protein tea)

*Ingredients:

4-8 ounces brewed tea that’s been cooled (black, green, matcha, etc. . .)

**4-8 ounces favorite milk (plant or dairy)

**4-8 ounces ice and/or water

**1-2 scoops favorite protein powder (I like the vanilla flavored for tea.) 

Optional add-ins for chai tea flavor:

½ teaspoon vanilla extract or powder

½  teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ginger

⅛ teaspoon allspice

Favorite sweetener such as honey, brown sugar, etc . . .)

Directions for both recipes:

Combine ingredients in a shaker cup or blender.

Shake or blend well.

Drink immediately, or make ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for up to 48-72 hours; however, the recipe will need to be shaken again before consuming. 

Additional notes for both recipes:

*Feel free to adjust amounts/ingredients to personalize for your taste preferences and/or dietary needs.

**Milk, added water, and/or protein powder can be replaced with favorite ready-to-drink protein shake, such as OWN, CorePower, Boost, Evolve, etc. . . .

Fudgy, Healthier Brownies (With Black Beans)

“The primary reason diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families.”–Michael Greger, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

When I read the above quote, it gave me reason to pause.  Hmm.  Reflecting on the generations that I knew within my family lineage, I realized three things.  One, I came from excellent cooks on both sides of the family.  Two, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimers/dementia were clearly present on both my paternal and maternal sides of the family.  Thirdly, those same two facts could pretty much be applied to most of my husband’s, John, family heritage.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let’s be honest, food is often the center of gatherings, events, and holidays.  While food is nourishing to the body, it is also comfort, warmth, love, and care, all wrapped up in a flavorful and aromatic quilted blanket of tradition.  Every family has their own unique variation of food traditions.  Even in families where the art or time for cooking has been lost, there are still food-centered events.  People love food, and why not?  

Unfortunately, food doesn’t always love us back–depending upon the foods we choose to eat, the portions we consume, and the beverages we down with it.  That said, I am not writing to push any one way of eating, cooking, or approach to food in general.  It is my firm belief that lifestyle and diet is an experiment of N = 1. Everyone has a unique genetic make-up, body, and life circumstances, so who am I to know what works best for each individual.  However, I do think most can agree that consuming more plant based foods is never a bad thing.

Photo by Jb Jorge Barreto on Pexels.com

One of my most treasured family recipes is my Grandmother Helen’s brownies.  It is the go-to recipe I make for special occasions, and it is most often requested by my daughter, Maddie.  In fact, I created a gluten-free variation of it, so that I, too, can enjoy this wonderful and scrumptious treat.  Thus, it was the combination of the quote above and my love for my grandmother’s brownies that led me to the research I used as motivation to cobble together this recipe variation for brownies that includes more plant based foods and uses less sugar.  

I give credit and inspiration from the following sites: chocolatecoveredkatie.com, dailydozenmealplans.com, nutritionfacts.org, busbysbakery.com, and The Jaroudi Family on Youtube.  Their recipes, combined with my own experience, gave birth to this healthier variation of my grandmother’s brownies.  Don’t get me wrong, I still plan to bake Grandmother’s Helen’s version for special occasions–there’s no replacing it; however, this recipe will do, as Grandmother Helen used to say, “in a pinch,” in order to satisfy my sweet tooth, but still sneak in the healthful benefits of a few more plants into my day.

Photo by Isabella Mendes on Pexels.com

 From my heart to yours, I appreciate you reading this and wish you much health and vitality!  I hope this will be a recipe you try! However, based upon my experience, you may not want to let your tasters know there are black beans in the brownies until AFTER they’ve eaten it!  I’d love to hear your thoughts, and be sure to share your variations with me.

Recipe below pictures ⬇️

The humble black bean can be transformed into a fiber-rich, AND delicious, sweet treat!
You can mash those black beans with your high powered mixer!
Bake them up in a pan lined with parchment paper or nonstick spray.
Then dive into the ooey-gooeyness!

Fudgy, Healthier Brownies (With Black Beans)

Ingredients:

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 fleggs* (can substitute with 2 eggs)

¾  cup cocoa powder

½ cup oats

½ cup applesauce (can substitute with ¼ cup vegetable oil)

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider or white)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup or more chocolate chips

Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts to sprinkle on top of batter before baking OR 2-4 tablespoons of peanut or almond butter mixed into the batter before baking

Instructions:

If using flaxseed (fleggs) instead of eggs, add 2 tablespoon flaxseed to a small bowl, and add in 6 tablespoons of water.  Stir and place in the fridge for 5 minutes. 

Prepare square baking pan (8 x 8 or 9 x 9) by lining with parchment paper or spraying with nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, high speed blender, or with a quality mixer set on higher setting, mash beans. (You can also do this by hand.)

In a large bowl, mix mashed beans with the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT chocolate chips and nuts if using. 

If using almond or peanut butter, it SHOULD be mixed into the batter.

Using a spoon, gently fold in chocolate chips (and/or nuts if desired) into the batter.

Pour batter into the prepared pan.  Add more chocolate chips and/or nuts if desired on top for decorative effect.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Allow to cool 10+ minutes before serving.

Store leftovers in the fridge.  These brownies magically get better after a day in the refrigerator!