Friday, March 28, 2014

Black Bean Brownies

I finally made black bean brownies. And guess what? They are good! Good, good, good!

I will admit I was skeptical. That's why it took me so long to give the recipe a try. I'll also admit to telling my six year old and husband I was just making (regular) brownies. It wasn't until after they asked for seconds did I tell them it was black bean brownies they were eating (and loving). There was a brief pause and a couple of strange facial expressions then they went back to eating them.

These brownies are easy to make. You throw all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, blend it all up, fold in chocolate chips, pour into the pan and sprinkle with more chocolate chips then bake. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool! The smell of yummy brownies will fill your kitchen (and entire home if it's as small as ours). That's why waiting for them to cool is tough, they smell so good. Initially, I thought getting 16 brownies was going to yield a teeny tiny brownie rather than a decent size piece but I was pleasantly surprised. They aren't huge but they aren't tiny either. However, I think it's safe to assume most people eating one will go back for a second.

The texture of the brownie is more cakey than fudgy in my opinion. It's cool to me that blending down black beans eliminates the need for flour. And, it's amazing to me that you cannot taste them. Chocolate can really turn anything into a dessert. Again, I was skeptical but these are good. I encourage you to give it a try. Oh, one more thing, when my youngest got home from school, I offered him a brownie. Before I could hand him one, my older son told him they were black bean brownies - he instantly said yuck and didn't want one. I knew that would happen that's why I didn't say anything initially. Funny, too, my little guy loves black beans but in a brownie? Nope. Not yet anyway. I'll get him next time!

Black Bean Brownies
Makes 16
Original recipe here.


1 (14 oz) canned organic black beans, rinsed and drained
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of ground coffee
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips, divided (I used both)


Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Grease a nonstick 9 x 9-inch square baking pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper.

Blend the black beans, eggs, cocoa powder, sugar, oil, almond milk, balsamic, baking soda, baking powder and coffee in a food processor until smooth. Fold in 1/2 cup chocolate chips until combined. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips evenly over the top of the brownies.

Bake the brownies until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Banana Cinnamon Waffles

Banana Cinnamon Waffles
Instead of making a pile of pancakes for us to eat throughout the week, I decided to make waffles. The recipe I normally use for both pancakes and waffles is great but I felt like finding something new or at least changing it up a little this week.

There is a lot of inspiration out there. I tend to start with the word "healthy" when searching for recipes on the internet. This usually gives me options most in line with how I like to cook. It mostly translates into using less oil, cream and sugar or adding fruit, veggies or flax to punch up the overall nutrition of something. For example, pasta sauce. I made a recipe that called for 1/4 cup olive oil once as is and once with two tablespoons of olive oil instead. The sauce tasted the same. Don't get me wrong, olive oil isn't bad but I like to reduce things like oil, butter and sugar where I can. However, I'm not one to replace ALL the oil or butter a recipe calls for with applesauce or yogurt. I've tried it and it just doesn't cut it. On the other hand, replacing sugar with honey or maple syrup has been successful in many things I've made. Also, it's common for waffle and pancake recipes to call for some sugar and oil in the batter. I've had no problems skipping both likely because it's usually only 1 to 3 tablespoons respectively. For me, the fun is in the experimenting. I always learn something new.

These waffles are perfect to eat right away or freeze for later. Serve with maple syrup and butter or your favorite toppings. I had maple syrup and chopped pecans on mine. Yum.

Banana Cinnamon Waffles
Makes 8 to 10 waffles
Adapted from here.

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk*
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large ripe banana, mashed
Cooking spray


Combine flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a fork or whisk.

Combine milk, eggs, and vanilla, stirring with a whisk; add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until blended. Fold in mashed banana.

Preheat a waffle iron. Coat iron with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per waffle onto hot waffle iron, spreading batter to edges. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until steaming stops; repeat procedure with remaining batter.**

*I haven't tried it with regular milk or non dairy milk but it works. Reduce the amount of milk to 1 1/2 cups when not using buttermilk. I have made this swap in other recipes but will be testing it in this recipe soon. If you beat me to it, let me know how it turns out.

**I have a waffle iron that beeps when the waffles are ready. I set it to the highest (7) setting to ensure some crispiness on the outside.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I've upgraded: Homemade "uncrustables"

I picked up this little gadget a while back and have been meaning to share it on the blog. I have an old post from 2010 that shows me making homemade uncrustable style PB& J sandwiches using a wine glass. The things I can come up with when working with just what I have in my kitchen! Hey, it worked. They looked just like the ones you buy in the box. A couple of years and many wine glass made sandwiches later I was in a grocery store and noticed a interesting square shaped plastic thingy hanging on the shelf. As I got closer I noticed the Wonder logo and something on the small tag that told me what it was. I was pretty excited about finding it. Definitely because it did what I was doing in a quicker fashion but also because it was like $3. Maybe $4 but either way it was affordable. I haven't looked back since. And because we took a long break from making this style of PB& J's, the kids didn't think twice about it being a square not a circle.

If you run across one of these,  I would recommend getting it. It is less expensive than the other one I saw here and it hasn't let me down yet. I hand wash it but it's dishwasher safe. A couple of things to remember is not to overfill your sandwich. It will make sealing it tough or you can end up with a rip in the bread. A standard size/shape piece of bread fits perfectly. The more rectangle pieces as well as the kind of small pieces of bread don't always work. I make up four to six at a time, put them in a freezer bag with a piece of parchment or wax paper between them and throw in the freezer. Easy, easy.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

More pumpkin, please. I make pumpkin recipes all year around. Any excuse for something that calls for pumpkin, I'm in!

This smoothie is good. It takes a little prep but for the taste and nutritional punch it delivers, it's worth it. I did a version with a couple of handfuls of mixed greens and it was good. But if you want the true pumpkin pie flavor, save your greens for another smoothie.

I'll be sharing more of my favorite smoothie recipes soon including green smoothies. I'm a big fan of the wonderful team at Simple Green Smoothies and they have inspired my green smoothie habit almost entirely. You can hop on over to their site for some recipes right now. I can't say enough about their recipes being the best for "beginners" or those that think they could never stomach greens in a smoothie. :)

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Makes 1 smoothie
Original recipe here.

1 cups Almond milk
1/4 cup Rolled oats
1 tbsp Chia seeds
1/2 cup Canned pumpkin
2 tsp Molasses
1/2 Banana, frozen
2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp Pure maple syrup


1. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the milk, oats, and chia seeds. Place in fridge for 1 hour or preferably overnight. I took the original author's advice and prep'd it the night before.

2. Add soaked oat mixture to blender along with the pumpkin, molasses, frozen banana, spices and maple syrup. Blend until smooth.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Shell

I've been meaning to post this little gem for a while. I can't remember where I found this but I'm so happy I did! (You can do a search for homemade magic shell and get lots of ideas).

A hard coating of chocolate over a cold scoop of ice cream brings back happy childhood memories. From a scoop at home with "magic shell" to a chocolate dipped cone at the Foster's Freeze.

Let's quickly compare homemade chocolate shell to the well known Magic Shell from Smucker's.

Smucker's Magic ShellSugar, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil, Chocolate, Whole Milk Solids, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Contains 2% or less of: Soy Lecithin, Salt, Vanilla.

Homemade Chocolate Shell: Chocolate, Coconut Oil.

The Magic Shell didn't have as much of a big bad ingredients list as I expected it to. But it still has things you can avoid like added sugar and oil by making your own. Plus why buy it when it's super simple to make and you're in control of what ingredients go into it? Here's how I made mine:

3/4 cup Dark chocolate chips
1 tbsp Coconut oil

Put chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwavable glass container (I used my Pyrex measuring cup). Heat slowly in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until completely melted. Pour over your favorite ice cream and watch the magic!

PS: I really like the article linked to Soy Lecithin (above or click here). It explains the ingredient thoroughly giving you the information you need to decide whether or not you want to avoid it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Peanut butter cookies and a personal project

A healthier peanut butter cookie.
I made these cookies and I liked them. A lot. So did the kiddos. I didn't get to making pumpkin or banana bread yesterday so I put one of these in my big boy's lunch today.

First, these cookies have sugar. They are cookies after all! The recipe I adapted this recipe from called for half white sugar and half brown sugar. I used all brown sugar because I prefer it over the white and some say it's a tad less processed? Regardless, I used it! You know those chocolate chip/chocolate drizzled granola bars you see/buy at the grocery store? These would be a good homemade replacement. You could even shape them into more of a square or small bar rather than round like a cookie. I hope you'll give this quick recipe a try.

Now for a little something a little more personal. Here's the scoop. I'll be 40 in six months. Any birthday can be a "big" birthday. For some 40 may or may not be. For me, it is. The most important part for me is embracing it, being excited about it and being present the moments leading up to it. I plan on learning more about myself over the next six months. I want to push the limits I've put on myself (oh there are so many!). I've been moving in this direction very slowly for a very long time. My goal is to step it up. So there it is. I'd love it if you followed me here at MFM. I could use the encouragement. Oh, and you know, you could join me... maybe you want to commit more fully to yourself, feel more inspired and learn to be more mindful as well. A big birthday or not, six months from now - who knows where we'll be?

Peanut Butter and Flax Cookies
Adapted from here.
Makes 15 cookies

2 tbsp Coconut oil or butter, room temperature
1/2 cup Natural peanut butter
2 tbsp Milk (your favorite type)
1 egg or 1 flax egg
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 cup Brown sugar, unpacked (I used a bit less than a 1/2 cup)
1 cup Oats
1/2 cup Whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 tbsp Ground flaxseed
1 cup Dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line baking sheet with parchment

1. In medium bowl, cream coconut oil or butter and peanut butter (this can take a while if mixing by hand).
2. Add milk, egg, vanilla and sugar. Mix well.
3. Add oats, whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda and flax. Stir gently to combine.
4. Mix in chocolate chips (still be gentle!).
5. Scoop with regular size cookie scoop onto lined baking sheet.
6. Bake 10 - 12 minutes.
7. Let cool (if you can wait that long) and enjoy!

Make these vegan by using coconut oil, almond or other non-dairy milk, flax egg and vegan chocolate chips.

Swap out the peanut butter for any nut or seed butter if you like.

Let me know if you try replacing the brown sugar with honey or maple syrup. I'd love to know what adjustments were made and how they turned out.

Note: This recipe is an update from this original post.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Hello 2014! Here's to a year of good health, new goals, more adventure, lots of recipes and more medium food mama.