Saturday, June 29, 2013

Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

Prep time
5 mins
Cook time
25 mins
Total time
30 mins
Black bean brownies that are vegan, gluten free, and require just one bowl and about 30 minutes to prepare! Healthy, easy and delicious – the best kind of dessert.

Serves: 12
1 15 oz. can (~ 1 3/4 cups) black beans, well rinsed and drained
2 large flax eggs (2.5 T flaxseed meal + 6 T water)
3 T coconut oil, melted (or sub other oil of choice)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (the higher quality the better)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Heaping 1/2 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Optional toppings: crush walnuts, pecans or semisweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a 12-slot standard size muffin pan (not mini).
  • Prepare flax egg by combining flax and water in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a couple times and then let rest for a few minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients (besides walnuts or other toppings) and puree – about 3 minutes – scraping down sides as needed. You want it pretty smooth.
  • If the batter appears too thick, add a Tbsp or two of water and pulse again. It should be slightly less thick than chocolate frosting but nowhere close to runny. I didn't have to add anything to mine.
  • Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin tin and smooth the tops with a spoon or your finger. Optional: Sprinkle with crushed walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips.
  • Bake for 20-26 minutes or until the tops are dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides. I found mine took about 22.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan. They will be tender, so remove gently with a fork. The insides are meant to be very fudgy, so don’t be concerned if they seem too moist – that’s the point. Plus, they’re vegan so it doesn’t really matter.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. Refrigerate to keep longer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cutting Processed Foods From Your Diet

I will be the first to admit that cutting out processed foods from my diet is very difficult to do! I have found it easier to cut out meat, which I'm currently doing as well.

Here's how I have started to modify my diet.....I decided to cut out all meats except grilled chicken. I am also trying to strictly limit the amount of processed foods I consume. I try new raw and natural foods like fresh fruit and vegetables. I'm also trying new recipes. I'm not sure if I'll ever be at 100%, but I haven't changed my workout too much and just altered my diet and I've lost 4 pounds in less than 2 weeks! When you sit back and evaluate everything you eat daily, you will be shocked at what is processed! See the "5 Simple Tricks to Avoid Eating Processed Foods" below to get started.

A definition of processed foods is: convenience food that is commercially prepared and designed for ease of consumption. Products designated as convenience food are often prepared and can be sold as hot, ready-to-eat dishes; as room-temperature, shelf-stable products; or as refrigerated or frozen products that require minimal preparation (typically just heating).

Some examples of processed foods are:
  • chocolate & cookies (yes, Oreos too)
  • canned fruits and vegetables
  • cheeses
  • lunch meats
  • macaroni/pasta
  • milk (even soy and almond milk!)
  • potato chips
  • pickles
  • frozen dinners
  • breads (even vegan ones!)
  • ice cream
  • white rice
  • jelly/jams
  • butter
  • French fries
  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • pizza
  • energy bars
  • fresh meat with additives
  • cereal--all kinds including the "healthy" ones
  • creamer and sugar you put in your coffee (this one is hard for me!)
So basically, any food that has a label or comes in a box, bag, or can/jar is processed!

Top 5 Scariest Processed Foods:
cake frosting
powdered drink mixes
jarred cheeses
canned lunch meats
chicken nuggets

5 Simple Tricks to Avoid Eating Processed Foods:
  1. Shop parameter of store--most of the least processed foods reside on the outskirts of the grocery store. Try to limit the amount of items you purchase from the center of the store.
  2. Read ingredients labels--if a product is made with an ingredient that you cannot pronounce or is a long list of words that sound like chemicals, DON'T EAT IT!
  3. Demand that restaurants provide a list of what is in their foods! Restaurants are not required to reveal what is in their foods. Most of the foods they prepare are NOT made with fresh ingredients!
  4. Cook for an army on the weekends. Make food ahead of time and freeze it to make your own version of "fast food".
  5. Think simple. Cooking doesn't have to mean cooking gourmet or even cooking at all. Look for recipes that are simple, with only a few ingredients, and find new foods in the process.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Raw Taco Salad

Shredded lettuce
1 lime
Walnut Taco Meat:
2 cups walnuts, soaked 4-6 hours
1 tbsp. dehydrated minced onion
2-3 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne
Easy Guacamole:
2 small, ripe avocados
1/2 cup tomato, diced
3 tbsp. red onion, diced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Salt to taste
Pico de Gallo:
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/4 cup of cilantro, minced
1 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
Salt to taste
Cashew Sour Cream (optional):
1 cup cashews, soaked 4-6 hours
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Walnut Taco Meat:
Blend walnuts in a food processor until they break down into small crumbles. Do not over mix, they will quickly form a paste (not good!). Add remaining ingredients listed above and pulse a few times until well blended. Remove from processor and set aside.
Easy Guacamole:
In a small bowl, mash the avocados until fairly smooth. Add remaining ingredients and mix together.
Pico de Gallo:
Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl.
Cashew Sour Cream:
Blend the soaked cashews with 1/2 cup water in a food processor or powerful blender until very smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until well combined.

*If you want a warm non-meat option, you can use vegan substitute such as Boca crumbles.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Eating Healthy is Expensive! Here's How We Cope.

One of the things I hear the most when discussing eating healthier is that it is expensive. That statement is completely TRUE! While I hate to admit it, buying fresh, good quality food isn't cheap. Our family is determined NOT to let that keep us from getting healthy!

A Little History of Our Food Transformation
My husband, Eddie, started our healthy eating habits. When he first started losing weight, he was doing fresh fruit and veggie smoothies. He then went back to eating solids but stayed with vegan items. Recently, he decide to go more towards a raw foods, no processed food diet while staying vegan.

I have to say, I've started slowly cutting out processed foods and meats and I am losing weight so much faster than just exercising and eating "bad" foods! I'm not 100%, but I try to make better decisions and purchase less and less processed foods.

Some days, depending on his exercise regimen, Eddie will intake 3,000 to 5,000 calories. When you are eating raw, this means he consumes a ton of food! In order to allow us to move towards eating healthier, I started couponing about 6 months ago.

Now, I'm NOT a crazy couponing lady who gets $1,000 of groceries for $5, but I am able to get items such as body wash, toothpaste, shampoo, razors, feminine products, and makeup for about 70% of original cost. This is a huge savings! By doing that, it frees up our budget to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

For example, today I spent a total of $112.38 and here are all the items I purchased from Kroger and Target (averages about $1.42 per item):
  • 12 boxes (10 ct each) Capri Suns
  • 12 regular sized tubes Crest toothpaste
  • 4 Oral B toothbrushes
  • 3 boxes of tampons (40 ct each)
  • 2 pks of Stayfree maxipads
  • 5 pks of Carefree pantiliners
  • 4 jars of Barilla pasta sauce
  • 4 bags of Pirates Booty snack
  • 2 bunches of fresh organic Kale
  • 1 bunch of fresh organic Mustard Greens
  • 2 eggplants
  • 4 yellow squash
  • 4 zucchini
  • 15 pkgs (4 ct each) Hunts pudding
  • 1 Venus razor
  • 1 Almay eyeshadow kit
  • 1 Almay mascara
  • 1 KitKat Mini bag
  • 1 Rolo Mini bag

Other Options
We also go to Aldi, which is a budget-friendly grocery chain, to strictly purchase fruits and veggies. If you've never been to Aldi, you will need $0.25 to get a buggy and bring your own bags. get your $0.25 back if you return your buggy to the store. Those are two ways the store keeps costs down. Don't get carried away at Aldi buying junk though! Some of their prices are NOT good when compared to going to other stores and using coupons. Aldi doesn't take coupons!

One thing we like to do is  visit local farmer's markets to find super fresh items! Sometimes it might be more expensive than Aldi or our local grocery store, but you are supporting your local economy and helping a local family.

If you need help getting started couponing or if you have suggestions on other ways to save money, email me!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 small banana (or 1/3 large one) very ripe, mashed - too much makes cookies oily and flat
1 cup Palm (coconut) sugar
1 cup Almond butter (I like the Barney Butter crunchy brand)
1 tsp baking soda
Semi-sweet chocolate chips (use a vegan brand to keep vegan)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and let it completely heat up. Mash banana and all other ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. I use a plastic bowl and fork to mix. Use parchment paper on cookies sheets (very important! don't leave this step out). Place batter on cookies sheets leaving approx 1 inch between each drop of batter (use a teaspoon to divide out). Bake on 350 degrees for EXACTLY 10 minutes. Even if you don't think cookies look done at the 10 min mark, TAKE THEM OUT! Very important to place on cooling rack. Then enjoy!

Info: Makes 12-14 cookies per batch

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hummus Pizza

1 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup whole flax seeds
1 cup water
6 carrots
1 red bell pepper
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 zucchini, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tomato, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 oz mushrooms, marinated and dehydrated (optional)

The crust can be started the evening before and left in the dehydrator to get crispy.
Start by soaking the ground and whole flax seeds in the one cup water. They will get gelatinous and this is what helps hold the crust together.
While the flax is soaking, in food processor fitted with an "S" blade, process the remaining crust ingredients until smooth. Stir into the soaked flax.
Spread thinly on teflex or plastic covered dehydrator trays.
Let dehydrate for a couple hours, then score into desired shapes and flip. Peel the sheet off the back of the crust and let it finish drying on the screen.
To make the hummus, simply process all the ingredients in the food processor with the "S" blade until very smooth.
Assemble the pizzas by breaking the crusts long the score lines, spreading on a layer of hummus, and adding the toppings.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

New Facebook Page!

We have started a new Facebook page to share both Eddie and my blog entries, along with other healthy items. Come join us! You can click my Facebook icon link or to go

Banana Ice Cream

  • 5-6 bananas, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, optional

Cut bananas into 1-inch pieces and place in freezer for 2-4 hours. When ready to make ice cream, take bananas from freezer and add honey and cinnamon, along with walnuts, if desired. Place into blender/mixer. Blend until mixture becomes ice cream consistency (time varies by type of blender used). Dish and serve.

Calories:  Approx 80 per serving

Healthy Recipe Sharing Day

I thought I would start off my blog talking about our day today. Eddie, the girls, and I went over to our friends, Mike & Courtney's house, to have a day of sharing healthy recipes. On a quest to rid ourselves of processed, unhealthy foods, this turned out to be much more fun (and filling) than any of us imagined! I'm going to share the recipes we made in separate posts, but the day started with making vegan chocolate chip cookies. I love cookies and these are AMAZING!!! Courtney made them for me a few weeks ago and since then, I've been dying to make them again. Today I got to learn how. After that, Eddie shared his recipe for energy bars. Since starting out on his cycling, and now running and swimming journey, he has been eating pre-packaged energy bars. A few months ago, he decided he could make better-tasting, more-nutritious bars for himself. I will share this recipe as well. Courtney made a batch for her family and used different ingredients. Both of these also turned out extremely well! Since we had already eaten our desert, we decided it was time to cook dinner. We had chicken kabobs, fresh chicken tenders, and corn-on-the-cob all grilled by our grill master Mike. Again, everything turned out so good. For desert, Eddie made his banana ice cream. I think everyone was a little skeptical due to the lack of ingredients needed, but they were quickly amazed by this healthy, refreshing treat! Needless to say, there was none left! Just when we thought we were going to settle down and rest our overworked digestive systems, Eddie discovered a recipe for almond butter fudge. GAME ON!!! After picking up one missing ingredient, the kitchen was again in disarray on a quest to try this fudge. Fudge = rich, creamy, and wonderful! Now in a food coma, we ended our healthy cooking adventure!