Fudgy Brownie Bites

I’ve heard about people making brownies with black beans (I plan to try it out at some point), so that was the inspiration behind today’s truffle concoction.  I’ve recently become all about using beans in “desserts,” thus my cookie dough truffles made with white beans.  These brownie bites use my cookie dough truffle formula with a chocolatey twist!

Before I made the truffles with black beans, I really liked them and was pretty blown away by how much they taste like traditional cookie dough.  Now that I’ve subbed the black beans—which are high in protein, fiber, folic acid, and magnesium, and a solid source of potassium and iron—and tossed in some cocoa powder, I LOVE these truffles!  It’s kind of freaky how much they ended up tasting like ooey gooey fudgy brownies.

A true chocolate addict?  Up the cocoa powder, double the chocolate chips, or dip in melted dark chocolate.  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  COOKIE DOUGH TRUFFLES

Yields 16-20 balls

  • 1 ½ cups cooked beans (e.g. garbanzo, great northern, cannellini, etc.) –> I’m using black.
  • ½ cup seed or nut butter (nuts/seeds ONLY) –>  I’m using peanut.
  • 1/8 cup+ liquid sweetener (e.g. agave syrup, maple syrup, etc.) –> I’m using ¼ cup agave.
  • ½-1 tsp extract (amount depends on flavor intensity) –> I’m using 1 tsp vanilla.
  • Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt (optional) –>  I’m not using it.
  • ½ cup chips (e.g. chocolate, dried fruit, chopped nuts, etc.) –> I’m using 2 1/2 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/4 cup mini-semi-sweet chocolate chips (vegan).

Combine all ingredients—except the chips—in a food processor and run until smooth. Transfer dough into a bowl and stir in chips.

dsc_3010

Using a melon baller or teaspoon, form into balls and roll in your hands until smooth. Ready to eat immediately! 🙂 Store leftovers in the fridge.

dsc_3014

 

Cherry Cordial Dessert Smoothie

As mentioned a few times now (ok, maybe a lot of times!), I am craving sweets in this second pregnancy.  I’m happy to report that I’m now twenty-two weeks along, the baby is healthy, and I’m getting all the sweets I want, the Fresh Formula way.  (Don’t worry, I’m still eating a boat load of veggies, whole grains, beans, and nuts, too.)

If you’ve been tuning in recently, you’ve seen my peanut butter and jelly smoothie, homemade jam formula, and an epic cherry pie, all working together to satisfy my sweet tooth with little to no added sweetener.  Today’s cherry cordial dessert smoothie incorporates elements of one of my favorite candies, the abundance of cherries I am still consuming from my latest Bountiful Basket victory, and a whole bunch of nutritious deliciousness that will leave me satisfied and guilt-free.

Traditionally, the cherry cordial is a cherry and sweet syrup inside of a dark chocolate shell.  If you’ve never had one, at some point, splurge and please do.  They are so so so decadently yummy!  Could I sit down and eat the better part of a box right now?  You bet…but I won’t.  With my latest dessert smoothie concoction (the first being my chocolate peanut butter version), I get all there is to love about the classic cherry cordial without the added sugar.

With babies on the brain, I’m also thinking about two-year-old Nolan when I come up with one of these recipes.  I totally let Nolan dig in to a traditional dessert on occasion—the boy hasn’t met an ice cream he didn’t like—but by “on occasion” I mean I can literally count on less than two hands the number of times he’s eaten a dessert with animal products in it.  Because he rarely sees or consumes something like ice cream, he knows it’s a special treat and honestly, would be even happier with one of my dessert smoothies any day.  In our house, he doesn’t beg for ice cream, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets; he wakes up shouting “Chocolate smoothie!” instead.  🙂

Even these dessert smoothies are a “special treat” compared to the super food smoothies we make regularly.  As much as a two-year-old can, Nolan has developed quite the sophisticated palate and definitely knows the difference between routine healthy eating and special treats, like this one, that are often super healthy, too, especially when compared with other varieties.  I mean, look at the ingredients:

DSC_2254

The point is, this is “dessert” I feel excited about feeding my toddler and unborn child, so it’s definitely a-ok for me, Travis, and you, too.  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  DESSERT SMOOTHIE

Serves 2-3

  • 2 frozen bananas (or fresh bananas and ice)
  • ½-1 cup specialty ingredients –> I’m using ¾ cup pitted sweet red cherries* and ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp hulled hemp seeds
  • ¼-½ tsp extract of choice (optional, and amount depends on flavor intensity) –> I’m using ¼ tsp almond.
  • Pitted medjool dates as needed for sweetness –> I’m using 3.
  • Juice or plant milk until desired consistency (start with 4 oz) –> I’m using the minimum in almond.

*After I made this, Travis said he wanted more cherries.  Can’t go wrong with that.  Make it a full cup if you really like ’em!

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, adjusting specialty ingredients as necessary.

DSC_2259

Back-to-School Brownies

This summer, I’m teaching a one-month ENG102 course that meets four times a week for two hours a day.  At this point in my pregnancy, I need to eat at some point in the two hours, even if it is just a little nibble.  So, I thought I would start a snack sign-up for the students, bringing a snack for them on the first day so that they knew I meant business.  🙂

Brownies are a decadent, sweet, rich treat that seems to please even the pickiest of eaters.  Because these are Fresh Formula brownies, you can additionally expect my version to be healthier than the boxed variety or even those homemade with animal products.

The health benefits of what makes a brownie a brownie—cocoa powder—are numerous, and detailed in my chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie post.  Before we get to baking, I am going to cover two other featured ingredients:  pecans and coconut oil.

Pecans, besides being easy to chop and chew, are buttery and delicious.  Pecans are notably high in fiber and magnesium, which has anti-inflammatory benefits.  While pecans are high in fat, they boast healthy fatty acids, such as oleic acid (also found in olive oil), and contain no cholesterol.  Nut allergies?  Don’t worry – this formula does not require nuts to work.  I just really enjoy them for their protein content and yummy crunch!

DSC_2139Speaking of fat, coconut oil is loaded with it…but a lot of other amazingness, too.  Brownies rely on some fat to achieve their fudgy texture and glistening appearance, but you can make smart choices about what type of fat and how much you are going to use.  Coconut oil is everywhere in health news of late.  It can be used as sunscreen, hair conditioner and even toothpaste!  When it comes to ingesting it, it doesn’t contain many health benefits, per se, but can withstand a higher cooking temperature than many other oils, lessening your exposure to free radicals or carcinogens.  And of course, it doesn’t contain cholesterol.

DSC_2141

Whichever oil you choose, keep it mind that some will affect the flavor of the brownies; I found that coconut oil did not.

Finally, brownies are an excellent canvas for all kinds of chips.  Like my classic chip cookie formula, “chips” here can be a lot of things:  chocolate, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc.  My chips for today’s take on the formula are pecans.

As I’ve mentioned before, dessert is dessert and it won’t be the healthiest item you put into your mouth all day, vegan or not, but we can always strive to do better.  For me, they really are a special treat, popping out of my oven only two or three times a year.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, my students gobbled these up…even after they learned they were vegan.  Plant-based victory!

FORMULA BASE:  BROWNIES

Fills a 9 x 13 pan with approximately ¾-inch thick brownies

  • 2 cups flour –> I’m using all whole wheat except for the last 1/3 cup; I ran out and used brown rice flour to fill in the rest.
  • 1 cup plant milk –> I’m using unsweetened, unflavored almond.
  • 1 cup sweetener –> I’m using turbinado sugar.*
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup oil –>  I’m using coconut.
  • 1 tbsp ground flax or chia seeds + 3 tbsp hot water (“egg”) –> I’m using flax.
  • 1 tsp extract –> I’m using homemade vanilla.
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • OPTIONAL:  ½-1 cup chips

*What’s this?  See my cake formula.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients, sans sweetener.  In another bowl, mix your wet ingredients, plus sweetener.  This includes your “egg,” which should be prepared separately before adding it to the rest of the wet ingredients.

Slowly mix your wet ingredients into your dry until a dough forms.  That’s right, this mixture will likely be more dough-like than batter-like, although different sweeteners and oils may change the consistency slightly.  Point is, don’t be concerned if what you expected to be a drippy batter turns out thick.  🙂

DSC_2144Mix in your chips or save them to sprinkle on top.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 backing pan or dish (I prefer glass).  Spread your dough evenly throughout and top with chips, if you’d like.  Lightly press any toppers into the dough with a spatula before heading into the oven.

DSC_2145

Bake for 20-22 minutes for a fudgy brownie or 23-25 minutes for a cakey brownie.  Enjoy!