Vegan Gluten-free Black Bean Brownies

I adore black beans, and it would seem that more and more people feel the same way. They’re popping up all over the place in recipes that I would not typically think. It would appear that black beans are…dare I say it; the new black! (I couldn’t help myself, sorry).

I mean what’s not to love, they’re flavourful, inexpensive and a great source of protein, iron, and fiber. Not to mention they go perfectly in chili, rice, burgers….brownies. Whoa….hold the phone, brownies? Did I really just try to lead you to believe that chili and brownies now have something in common? The answer is YES!! My favourite little bean just keeps giving, and uh…let’s be honest if you love beans, and you love chocolate…why can’t it work?

blackbeanbrownie

Trust me tho, I was more than a little skeptical at first since I associate black beans with savory and often very spicy dishes. I will admit, I expected these brownies would be more EWWIE than ooey gooey if you know what I mean, and I would end up tossing the entire pan in the trash. However being of a curious nature, and in the mood to bake I decided it was worth the risk, and made them anyway.

I promised my mother I would find healthy recipes for her to make for my dad, and this one definitely makes the cut. As a matter of fact, she said that she doesn’t want a cake for her birthday but, I might make these for her for her instead. I’m also leaning toward raw coconut almond date squares but that’s an entire different story (recipe to come soon).

But back to the main event…the brownies. Give these guys a try, I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

 Black Bean Brownies

Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 19-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)

  • 3 heaping tbsp cocoa powder- dutch or regular (I like them rich)

  • 1/2 cup quick oats (Gf if you’re celiac like me)

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave (I used a mix of both)

  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

  • 3/4 tsp instant espresso powder (or instant coffee powder)

  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk

  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (I actually used a blender, but it was messy and the mixture is really thick so I really do NOT recommend it). Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Cook 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. Makes 9-12 brownies. (I got 16 because I cut mine smaller to take to work for my co workers to taste test)

Note: I took these babies to work today and set them out for my coworker and they DEVOURED them. Several people commented that they weren’t super sweet, but most people raved about the rich chocolate flavour and the smooth texture. Most of the women in my office asked for the recipe. NO ONE detected that they were free of butter, eggs, refined sugar, flour, etc. When I finally told them they were made with black beans they were stunned. To me, that is the ultimate test. I’m used to healthy food and like the taste, but to someone used to a 2 bite brownie from the grocery store I wasn’t sure how the taste would measure up. Seeing everyone gobble them up gave me my answer! Now you want to make them even more…right?

Shhh….don’t spoil the surprise!

Do you know that feeling when you have an awesome secret that you can’t tell someone because you’ll ruin a surprise that is in store for them, but every time you talk to them you find yourself biting your tongue to keep from blurting it out?    Welcome to my life.

I am currently hiding 2 separate secrets from my parents–they each know each other’s secret but have no idea there is one that involves them as well. I find that they both sort of act suspicious when they have a secret (do you know how many times I’ve practically forced my father to tell me what my birthday gift was?? Let’s just say so many times that my mother stopped letting him know what his money was buying. haha) but if they each have a secret to hide, they’d be too focused on hiding their secret to notice the other is acting all weird. Brilliant I know.

Secret number 1: I am heading home to Nova Scotia at the end of the month to spend Easter with my family and to celebrate my parent’s birthdays. My dad turns 60 on April 9th but we’re having his party early. The thing is…he doesn’t know i’m flying home for it and has been sulking every day for the past month. My dad and I are really close and it makes him sad that I can’t be there. Now, I feel so guilty every time he brings it up BUT at the same time, I know it will be the ultimate birthday gift to show up unannounced. My mom knows that I will be home, and is pretty darn cool about the whole situation–I keep reminding her not to accidentally tell my dad, but I think I may be projecting since every time I open my mouth I want to blurt out that i’ll be in Nova Scotia soon.

On to secret number 2…I ordered my mom a juicer last week and i’m having it delivered to my sister’s house. My dad knows that i’m getting her the juicer and keeps saying how excited and surprised my mom will be not realizing that HE is the one in for the surprise. My mother has no idea I ordered her the juicer. She has been wanting one for a while now, but  never treats herself so I took it upon my self to get something for her that I think will be good for her health AND a gift that she actually wants and will use. Win Win right?

I just need to figure out a way to keep from accidentally mentioning either of these things to the wrong parent. Just the other day I was talking to my dad about Easter vacation and had to quickly cover up a few slip ups I had. Luckily the hockey game was on and he was too focused on Detroit winning to notice that I was being awkward. *phew*

Before I go..keep your eyes open for several upcoming posts. I have been insanely busy with work, but since that’s the lamest excuse EVER I promise to do better. I have a few ideas for how i’d like this blog to develop and I think you’ll like it…well at least I hope you will. For starters, I want to review a few hair products I have recently purchased. The plan is to do 1 per week starting this week with Kinky Curly. I’m a bit of a product junkie so this is definitely going to take several weeks. (So much for cutting back on buying things). I’d also like to share at least 1 recipe per week and 1 workout routine. So That’s approximately 3 posts per week…I think I can do this! No, you know what…I CAN do this!

Until next time! Oh yeah…wish me luck with my constant urge to blab. 😀

UPS and Push ‘ups’…see what I did there? ;)

So I ordered a set of weights from Amazon (will do a review once i’ve had a chance to use them), and being the impatient child that I am, I have been logging in constantly to see when it shipped and where it was, when it would be delivered, etc. I woke this morning and checked the UPS site to see that it had arrived in Ottawa, was loaded on the truck, and was out for delivery today!! Their hours of delivery range from 9-7 or something but someone was here at all times so I knew it would all work out.  I checked every hour (okay, so I checked every half hour) at work to see if it was delivered yet…I checked every 5 minutes on my bus ride home, and then I sat like a child by the window after I got home waiting for the brown UPS truck to pull up. Check–nope, still out for delivery. Check again–Nope, still out for delivery. Check again–WAIT A MINUTE. Failed Attempt, cannot gain access to building,  need security code.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME UPS?!?!? (For the record, he didn’t even leave a delivery failure notice…)

I left a note on the doors telling the UPS guy to buzz our place with the buzzer #, that we were home, and still Nothing! I am very much NOT impressed. I called UPS regarding this matter, to which they responded–well try leaving a note, that helps. Nope, actually, it does not. She then gave me the good news, well he’ll try again tomorrow–also between 9 and 7. Maybe try to catch him then? Yes, because I have nothing better to do than sit at home waiting for the UPS guy NOT to deliver my parcel. I’m not going to lie, the package weighs 110lbs and I am not looking forward to going to pick it up from one of their locations, so it would be MUCH better to have him bring it to my door. And that’s not asking to much is it? I did, after all, pay to have it DELIVERED. On a positive note, I learned a lesson in patience today. I believe my mother would always say “A watched pot never boils” haha. Gahhh.

Anyway, i’m really hoping for a delivery tomorrow! My husband will be home for most of the day but I am planning to do spin class at 6am and 4pm so I won’t be home until later in the day, but i’m sure everything will work out. *positive thoughts*

Okay so. That is the end of my little rant, and on to happy things like…a fabulous workout!

This is the workout I did Monday night. It’s pretty intense…my arms are still a little stiff actually.

Workout: (7 rounds)

60 Jumping Jacks

50 Crunches  (I alternated crunches and reverse crunches for that ‘lower ab’ factor)

50 squats

15 pushups

Sounds easy enough right? Well try doing this as fast as you can, without sacrificing form, for 7 rounds. I assure you, it gets tough. I refuse to do push ups on my knees, so the last 3 rounds I was practically yelling  the entire 15 pushups because my arms were dying. I am happy to report that I survived this routine AND managed to do it in under 35 minutes. Feel free to give it a shot and post your best time–especially if it beats my time!

Have a great night! I’m off to bed–actually i’m off to paint my nails in a hurry, then go to bed. 6am spin class is calling my name!

And if you threw a party, Invited everyone you knew, You would see, the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say, Thank you for being a friend

Wow, that is a LONG title. In case you’re unaware this is the theme song for Golden Girls. *sigh*  You’ll understand why soon… (Yes, i’m feeling sentimental today…)

There is something to be said for having supportive friends. I am blessed to have a close set of girlfriends who I can really confide in. We share the good, the bad, and well…the ugly. A big thing, especially the past year, is encouraging and challenging one another to improve fitness and diet wise. Several of my girlfriends ran a marathon last year, some of us did a spin-a-thon on the weekend, and we’re always swapping healthy recipes, new exercise moves and planning times to meet up to “die in a pool of sweat”. And here’s a big one–You know that day when you are supposed to go to the gym, but you’re tired and just want to go home, lie on the sofa and eat chips, and would do just that but you already promised your friend you’d meet her for spin class so you can’t bail or she’ll punch you. After work, you suck it up, meet her and go to class and the moment you do, realize how great you feel and how happy you are that she threatened you? THAT is what i’m talking about. Now if you’re sick your friend would be the first person to make you go home, but laziness won’t fly because she knows you’ll thank her later.I count myself lucky to be among girls of like mind when it comes to taking care of their bodies. True, we don’t all look the same –that would be weird–but ultimately we all want to be and feel our best.

Not everyone has what I have. Too often, we are pressured into eating foods we know aren’t good for us instead of encouraged to stay strong. My younger cousin has been faced with this in the past month as she’s made changes to her diet and fitness schedule. I love my uncle and aunt, but they feel that she should be happy the way she is–and she should be happy–but what’s wrong with improving on yourself? Especially if that improvement is to your health and the way you feel? It’s difficult for her to walk away from the starchy salty carbs, the sugary treats, and the fatty fried foods but she’s been doing quite well despite these temptations. We talk often, and i’m impressed with her will power. I just need her to stay strong. And as easy as it is to say “just don’t eat it” we’ve all been there, and i’m sure at one point or other we’ve all caved and ate the 2nd, 3rd, even 4th cookie (or whatever your vice may be).

So…this weekend one of my friends made a commitment to clean up her diet, exercise more, give up all alcohol, and focus on changing her body once and for all. She said to me that there are things fitness wise she’s wanted for several years now but never really wanted it enough, but woke up this weekend and realized she DID want it enough. It got me thinking about my own fitness aspirations. I want sculpted abs, buns of steel, and defined toned shoulders, yet I don’t challenge myself enough to get them. Sure I stay fit, and I eat well, but I don’t REALLY go that extra mile to get stronger, faster, better. Somewhere along the lines, I lost the spark. Whether she realizes it or not, she has motivated me take charge again and really improve on myself. As a matter of fact I did a grueling workout today, even had to use my inhaler–I’m not much of a toe in the water type of girl, I prefer to jump in completely that way before I have chance to realize its cold and back out i’m already in–then I adapt. The workout was intense, but worth it. I’ll post it tomorrow or Wednesday along with a healthy recipe. 🙂

Oh, and for those of you who don’t drink you may think that giving up alcohol is the easiest thing ever…but for those of us who like to enjoy a glass or 2 of wine with dinner you can understand that it’s hard to give up that comforting liquid, especially when it soothes our nerves after a long hard day at the office.

My close girlfriends support one another, challenge one another, and help keep a certain level of accountability and I am so lucky to have this support system-we all are. When I realized I could no longer eat gluten my friends looked out for me –always checking to make sure I’m not going to get sick and even going so far as to make gluten free foods for our ‘girls night in’ potlucks. Actually, there have been a few moments when i’ve had a friend YELL AT ME for something I was about to eat, and remind me that I would probably end up feeling like death for 3 weeks if I ate it. Fast forward a few years, and I decided to become a vegan. My coworkers like to offer me food made with “only a little dairy and eggs”, my parents (whom I love dearly) make sure to lecture me about the importance of meat protein–but my friends do not. Now, maybe they think i’m crazy–I have my moments I will admit, but they support me even tho they are not vegans because it’s something that is important to me. (Note: I am sure I can convert at least one of them to the land of no animal bi products eventually and then watch it spread like an awesomely healthy epidemic til they’ve all been converted muah ha ha but shhhh don’t tell them–crap they read my blog).

For the record, we don’t just sit around talking about Kale and squats–we also like to discuss important things like Idris Elba, how many vacation days we have left to travel, and whether or not mint green is a good choice for pants among other things but seeing as how none of those things are going to keep us healthy (Well Mr. Elba might) we do talk a lot about staying fit. 🙂

So moral of this sappy post– surround yourself with people who support and love you. Be goofy together, serious, sad, happy, angry, but most of all be a good supportive friend. Show them how much you appreciate them and be there for them when they need it. I love my girls–you know who you are.