Monday, August 19, 2013

The Perfect Black Bean Brownies

My search for the perfect black bean brownie recipe began long ago when I was in the mood for chocolate. Specifically, gooey, sweet, chocolatey brownies.

I had not indulged in a brownie for a long time since becoming vegan. Mainly because I had only come across recipes that were made with white flour and a lot of refined sugar.

Therefore, I needed to find a delicious, but healthy vegan brownie recipe.

Could it be done?

Having stumbled upon multiple black bean brownie recipes, I decided to give one a try. I had never tried black bean brownies, but they appeared to be much more nutritious than traditional brownies.

Challenges arose after my first attempt.

This batch of brownies was good, but they did not have that gooey, chocolatey-ness I was craving. So I continued my search.

I tried two more recipes. One of which utilized bananas.

This was a mistake.

Black bean brownies made with bananas do not taste like gooey, sweet, chocolatey goodness. They taste like bananas.

I then made it a goal to simply create my own, perfect recipe for black bean brownies. One that satisfied  my standards for scrumptious brownies, as well as one my friends, who are not vegans, would approve of.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Orange's and Tahini Cream

I had just come back from vacation and although getting away is supposed to be restful, it was the opposite. I barely slept the entire week, both because I was kept up late and because I never slept comfortably. Needless to say, I began to feel sick by the time I returned home. I felt a cold coming on.

So I reached for some vitamin C.

We had just bought a bunch of oranges, however oranges have never been my favorite fruit. Oranges and I share a love-hate relationship. I decided,  however, it would be a good idea to have one anyway in attempt to fight my oncoming cold as we did not have any bell peppers. Bell peppers actually have more vitamin C than citrus fruits according to this percentage of vitamin C in bell peppers compared to this percentage of lemons/limes and this one of oranges, though citrus fruits are still a good source.

When I opened the fridge to find the oranges, I also laid eyes upon a new container of plain yogurt, which I had been apart from for a week. I wanted both the oranges and the yogurt.

So I had a thought.

Why not put them together and make a healthy oranges and cream dish?

I was also in the mood for some tahini after recently discovering its exceptional flavor and abilities to enhance many dishes. So I put a spoonful on top of my yogurt just because. I hoped it would add some flavor and protein.

I was right!

This small snack, although definitely differently tasting, was actually pretty good and I have made it several more times.


  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup organic, plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (I used Stonyfield's) 
  • 1 spoonful of tahini
  1. Scoop yogurt into a small bowl. 
  2. Spoon on tahini. 
  3. Peel orange and separate into slices. 
  4. Dip orange slices into "cream."
  5. Enjoy!

 I no longer promote consuming dairy, but have left this recipe up for those who choose to do so. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mini Mushroom Cap Pizzas

This is a simple, but delicious dish that I tried after seeing some pre-made mushroom cap pizzas in the grocery store. These ones, however, had dairy cheese on them, therefore I chose not to eat them. I decided to make my own instead. 

These mini pizzas made a perfect meal while I finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. :)

  • 2 mushroom caps 
  • Pesto sauce (I made my own)
  • Tomato sauce (I made my own) or chopped tomatoes
  • Your choice of veggies (I used chopped onions and peppers) 
  • Daiya cheddar cheese  Use real cheese from grass-fed animals 

1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. 
2. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease with vegetable oil. 
3. Place mushroom caps face down so that the stem faces up. 
4. Cover the bottom of each cap with pesto. 
5. Add the tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes. 
6. Layer veggie toppings. 
7. Sprinkle Daiya cheese. 
8. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. 


If you want the cheese to be more melted, broil for 1 minute after baking. 

Although Daiya cheese is quite good, I do not recommend eating it all the time. Enjoy this dish on occasion, prepare without cheese, or try making alternative cheeses, such as those made from cashews. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Filling Hemp "Oatmeal"

I had been experimenting with oatmeal dishes for quite a while. I have eaten oatmeal for breakfast for quite some time, playing with different ways to make it. During my first year at college I got into the habit of eating a bowl of dry oats with almond milk and nutritional yeast every morning. I forget how I discovered this exactly. I think I may have been too lazy to continue using my roommate’s portable kettle to heat water to actually cook the oats, or maybe I was just in the mood for cereal, but had none, and then somehow decided that nutritional yeast would work in this mixture as well. Either way I was hooked on this dish for months.

By the time I arrived back home, however, my taste buds were searching for something different. I also needed to find a breakfast that was more filling because once at home for the summer I returned to my job at a bakery in a farm store called Moulton Farm. At the bakery I begin work at either 5 or 6 in the morning and do not take many breaks throughout the day. I am also on my feet, moving around for most of the day and I found that my usual breakfast was not sustaining me for a long period of time. I would often end up eating my lunch at 7 or 8 in the morning and not have much food left for the rest of the day.

During high school I used to make my oatmeal with just raisins, cinnamon, honey (from my grandmother’s bees, which I have also helped tend so I know they are treated humanely), and sometimes peanut butter. This was very good, but did not fill me up as much either when I tried it again that summer. I also try not to add too much unnecessary sugar to my diet. If foods taste good enough without sugar, why add it? And I knew a satisfying dish of oatmeal could be delicious in many ways without adding sugar. I just needed to find one.

Through researching food, browsing the Nutrition Center on the main street in my town, and remembering what a friend said once while we were hiking, I decided to try hemp seeds. These seeds claim to be a super food full of complete proteins, healthy fats, nutrients (see here and especially here), and sustain a consumer for hours, even an entire day. My friend had said that she made hemp granola in order to “get the most amount of calories in the least amount of food” because when hiking, that matters quite a bit.

 Hemp seeds, I learned, were rather tasteless and could be added to just about anything. They also held true to their claims as they were indeed quite filling.

I then thought I’d try them along with some dry oats, raisins, cinnamon, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk for added flavor and nutrients. And it was delicious. I’ve had it every morning since, with the exception of the occasional attempt at a new pancake recipe on my mornings off haha.  

This dish can either be made ahead of time, which allows the oats to soak for a while and become easier to digest, or prepared just before consumption. Whatever works for you! I’ve eaten it both ways and both are quite tasty.

  • ½ cup oats (use GF if necessary)
  • 2 Tbs. hemp seeds*
  • 1 Tbs. raisins
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk


1. Add all dry ingredients into your favorite breakfast bowl. 
2. Add milk. 
3. Let sit overnight
4. Enjoy a nice, filling, sweet without being sweetened bowl of oats!


*I no longer promote eating grains, but I have left this up for those who still enjoy meals which include grains. 

A variation of this dish is my Carrot Cake “Oatmeal”, which includes about a tablespoon or two of shredded carrots and half a banana, sliced, in addition to the other ingredients.