Vegan Gluten Free Healthy Brownies

Image

In my previous post, I talked about my entire journey of becoming a healthier person. One of those things was to really watch what I was eating.  I became more cognizant of what i was putting into my body. No I don’t really count my calories – that is just not something that worked for me. But I watch cholesterol, sugars, and fats. I make sure I’m getting enough protein and vitamins.

(I shouldn’t need to put out a disclaimer, but just in case: no i’m not a nutritionist. I am not a doctor. Everyone is different. Please do not use this to make any life altering decisions.)

Also, another disclaimer. I am not vegan. I do enjoy eating a LOT of vegan meals, though. I will still eat chicken occasionally. I will not eat pork or red meat if I don’t have to. Too much fats and cholesterol for me. I will not make hard boiled eggs or scrambled eggs for myself, but if someone offers me a food, I will more than likely eat it. I eat cheese, but I try and limit my intake of that as well. A lot of people think that because I post about a lot of the meals I eat and label them as vegan, but I’m personally not a vegan, that I’m being a hypocrite. Well, the meal itself is still vegan, so I’m not going to stop that.

Okay back to these brownies.

One of my sisters has a dairy allergy. And I love to bake. So I wanted to try and find a good recipe that I could make for Christmas that tasted good and was also dairy free. I found a brownie recipe that I was dying to try: Black bean avocado brownies. Sounds gross, I know, but it’s actually VERY good!  I already ate a row of brownies. Okay, a small row. It is made in a 8×8 pan. 😀

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 large flax egg
  • 1 – 15oz can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 medium to large ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×8 inch baking pan.
  2. Place flax egg, black bean, avocado, vanilla, and brown sugar and process in a food processor until smooth. Add in cocoa powder, coconut oil, baking soda, and baking powder and process again until smooth. Batter will be thick. If batter is way too thick and won’t process, you can add in a tablespoon or two of almond milk. This batter needs to be very thick in order to produce fudgy brownies. Fold in chocolate chip or sprinkle onto batter then transfer to prepared pan and use a spatula to spread evenly to sides. Sprinkle top of batter with 2 tablespoons of remaining chocolate chips.
  3. Bake for 22-30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out somewhat clean. We don’t want these to dry out, but we also don’t want them completely raw either! The top of the batter should be completely set and no longer jiggle. Cool pan completely on wire rack then cut into 12 bars.
NOTES
You may be able to sub the brown sugar for honey, agave or maple syrup. I would reduce to 1/3 cup though.
The brownies are best went made in a food processor so that beans can blend together better.
The brownies are best when served at room temperature or cold.

Recipe credit here.

Vegan GF Healthy Brownies

I followed the recipe almost exactly. Instead of the flax egg, I used a chia egg instead since I already have a huge bag of chia seeds. (To make a chia seed egg: For each egg, combine 1 tablespoon of ground chia seed (or flax seed) with 3 tablespoons of water. Stir well, and place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the result should be a sticky egg-like substitute) For the powder, I used Viva Naturals Cacao Powder, (which you can actually find on Amazon!) and the Viva Naturals Cacao Nibs for the vegan choc chips (again, hello Amazon!). I was a little weary about trying this at first because it’s black beans and avocado, but if I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed this was packed full of chocolate (not the vegan kind). I do not not taste black beans or avocados AT ALL.

I decided that since this is a relatively healthy recipe, and my sister can eat these, that I am going to bring them to Christmas for all to enjoy!

Happy baking!

P.S. I’m always open to making new things! Anyone have any dairy-free and/or vegan desserts they love? Post below!

How To Be Healthy In An Unhealthy World

In a fast-paced world where people need a quick fix, they are faced with a decision of a $3 burger or a $7 salad. “I need to eat healthy, but… (insert excuse.)” It’s no wonder everyone is getting fat. Seriously. Although I’ve sworn off fast food for YEARS — with the exception of Chipotle, Noodles and Panera, but only super sparingly — most people have not and are in a time crunch. And broke. I can’t tell you how many times my friends say, “let’s just run through McDonald’s/ Taco Bell/ Burger King real quick.” Um, no thanks. I’d rather eat my toe.

About two months ago, I had a serious wake up call when I realized I gained 20 pounds in the last year. Sure, that doesn’t seem like much to most people, but come on, twenty pounds is still freakin’ twenty pounds. I don’t care if someone is a size zero or a size twenty, but needing to buy a pant size higher than normal bruises the ego. One thing that really irks me is when people say, “but Megan, you are skinny. You don’t need to watch your weight.” Well, actually, yes I do. First of all, I still gained TWENTY pounds. That’s not something I can make up. Scales do not lie. (And trust me, I checked on like three of them just in case one was broken.) I do not wear shirts that are two sizes too small for my body so it doesn’t necessarily look like I’ve gained weight. I’ve become the master of disguise in this regard. Second, I’m getting older and I want to take care of my body. Wanting to be healthy does not mean I want to be super skinny. Skinny people can be really unhealthy. Yes I want to drop the weight I gained, but I mainly need to focus on doing it the healthy way.

I want:
– to make sure I do not have high cholesterol.
– to be able to go up and down the stairs without getting out of breath.
– to maintain good blood pressure.
– to not become deficient in anything. I already have an iron deficiency. Thanks, Anemia.

I want to take care of my body. Why is it that people look at me like I am some crazy person because “I’m skinny” and I “don’t need to watch what I eat.” It’s the biggest bunch of crap I’ve ever heard.

Let me say it again:

1. Skinny does not equal healthy.
2. You can overeat and be undernourished.

I’ve kept a food diary for a good six months. I never really analyzed it other than calories (up until two months ago). After doing hours and hours of research and watching documentaries, I realized I was doing it all wrong. Yes, counting calories is important, but not nearly as important as watching sodium, cholesterol, protein and vitamins. I stopped counting calories and started reading labels.

WHY IS HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IN EVERYTHING!?

This is so incredibly bad for you. And it is in EVERYTHING! Thank you FDA for NOT doing your job. It disgusts me with all the crap that is put into our food. Even in labels that say it’s a healthy choice… LIES. Has no one read labels before? Even granola bars have high fructose corn syrup in it.

I’m getting to the point where I am going to start making my own bread. Because, why not? I make almost all of my meals now.

I started to take this lifestyle more seriously about a month ago. I started running again (but it’s only happened like once every week, but that’s just one more time than it has been). I read all my labels. I rarely eat out. I also became a Vegetarian. Technically a Pescatarian, but for some reason everyone gets confused by what that means, so it’s just easier to say “I’m a vegetarian.” I don’t like a lot of seafood anyway, but I’m slowly getting introduced to more that I like.

After people find out that I’ve become a vegetarian, the first question I am usually asked is, “sooo, where do you get your protein from?” Not to offend anyone, but this is probably the most ignorant question. If you think you only get protein from meat, then you are probably not getting enough protein yourself.

Do the research.

When I was still eating meat, I wasn’t hitting my daily protein requirements. I thought “oh, well I had a chicken breast today so I’m fine.” Nope. I was not fine. Not eating meat has forced me to also eat healthier. I’m not only surpassing my protein needs for the day, but I’m hitting the majority of my vitamins/nutrients for the day as well.

Oh, and I’ve lost seven pounds.

This isn’t a diet for me. This is a lifestyle change. I feel healthier. Whenever I got full off of a huge meal with chicken (or any meat really, but I ate a lot of chicken), I felt bogged down. It’s the “You need to roll me out of the restaurant” feeling. I have only been vegetarian for a month now, but I feel lighter when I walk. I love eating healthy. It makes me feel better about myself. Granted, I’ve completely lost all the abs I used to have, and I’m pretty sure the 20 lbs I gained all attached itself to my stomach, but I’m slowly starting to feel better. And I’m barely working out! I need to put that plan into action before swimming suit season.

My tips for staying healthy:
– Read your labels and know what it means. Seriously. High fructose corn syrup is so incredibly bad for you.
– Aspertame. if that’s on the label, don’t eat it!! You’re just doing more damage by eating this.
– Avoid “Fat free” foods. Did you know that you can slap a “100% fat-free” sticker on a bag of pure sugar? Because, technically, there is no fat in sugar. But sugar turns into fat.
– Have I stressed it enough — read the labels.
– Challenge yourself to stop eating fast food. It’s so tempting, I know. I haven’t eaten fast food now in five years. This was NO easy task. Try making dinners ahead of time and bringing them to work. You will be saving money, but most importantly saving your health.
– STOP SKIPPING BREAKFAST!
– Instead of trying to find the closest parking spot, park in the furthest.
– Everyone has time for a half hour workout in a day. Just do something. At least three times a week.
– Keep a food diary. There is nothing more eye opening than reading your food diary and feeling guilty about how many times you’ve eaten ice cream or went out to eat. I’m a huge fan of the My Fitness Pal app. There’s upwards of about three million foods in there. Super easy.
– Don’t take diet pills. Ever. You might lose the weight initially, but you’re just going to gain the weight back. Our bodies were not meant to dump all that crap into it.
– Do you feel like you get hungry a lot? You could just be dehydrated (or bored). Trying drinking two full glasses of water and wait a half hour. If you are still hungry, then eat. Don’t starve yourself. But sometimes you just think you are hungry when you are just thirsty.
– Stop drinking soda!!!
– Moderation is key. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t still eat ice cream or sweets. But I also don’t do it as often as I used to. You need cheat days so you don’t binge.

I am by no means a nutritionist, but I’m also very aware of the crap that is put into our foods. We have the internet. People use it to Snapchat videos and upload photos on Instagram. Why not use it for research. Hello Google! Obviously you cannot believe everything the internet says. Everyone has ideas of what is healthy and what isn’t. I do. Clearly or I wouldn’t be writing an entire post about it.

I think of of the best things people can do is keep a food diary. And write down how you feel. Foods all affect us differently. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another. But facts about sugar and high fructose corn syrup don’t lie either.

I have this saved on my phone (you will need to click on it to zoom in):

Cravings-797x1024

I have found myself craving the healthier foods now. I have an easier time saying that I want almonds or strawberries instead. No it isn’t like that everyday. Some days I just want a piece of friggen chocolate, and I”m going to let myself eat it. And not the entire bar, but a piece or two. Remember: moderation.

Please note, I’m not going to tell anyone to stop eating meat. That lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But at least watch how you prepare your food. Read the labels in the condiments you use. Try not to deep fry a lot of foods. Instead of buying that muffin or cookie, think about what your body really needs. All that sugar? Probably not.

Hopefully this has brought some sort of insight to someone. I’ll be tracking my progress and writing about it. I wanted to wait a month to post anything about my lifestyle change so I could really get a grasp on it before telling the world about it.

So good luck and happy eating!