Delicious Black Bean Brownies

I’ve been wanting to begin a new, healthier lifestyle and have been working to find tasty recipes that are also wholesome and filling. These black bean brownies are just what a chocolate-sweet-tooth lover needs! They are slightly dense and have amazing chocolate flavor. Personally, I prefer my brownies to be fudgey, rather than cakey, and the recipe for these brownies is just the right consistency. And the best part? They’re actually a decent treat that won’t make you feel guilty! Now… you should still practice portion control and not eat the entire pan, but in moderation, these brownies are the perfect snack or dessert to keep you motivated while living a healthy life!

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Ingredients:

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed
3 eggs
3 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil –> I used coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar –> I used Splenda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 pan. Place beans in food processor and process until mashed. Add eggs, vanilla, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, sugar and oil. Process until smooth. Pour into pan and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Enjoy!

*** I found it super simple to just put all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into a blender and mix until smooth.

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Coffee Cake Cupcakes!

Looking for that perfect morning sweet treat to drink with that steaming cup of coffee? Well, try out these tasty coffee cake cupcakes! I found this recipe on Pinterest and as soon as I saw the picture I knew I had to try them. So obviously I took out the ingredients that needed to be room temperature (butter, eggs, and sour cream) and waited very (im)patiently for a few hours. Finally, it was time to start baking!

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Check out The Shiksa in the Kitchen! The website where this wonderful recipe is located: http://theshiksa.com/2011/10/27/coffee-cake-cupcakes/

Usually I’m a terrible baker. A few months ago I tried relentlessly to become a better baker, but everything (and I really mean everything) that I made just didn’t taste right, look right…you get the idea. But that terrible baking streak ended once I tried a recipe for cookie brownies! Another Pinterest find! I took these in to church one Sunday and everyone absolutely raved about them…but maybe that recipe will be featured in a later post at some point.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe for these yummy cupcakes:

STREUSEL INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp melted unsalted butter

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt, room temperature
  • 1 tsp almond or vanilla extract

GLAZE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp melted butter

Servings: 12 cupcakes

For the streusel topping:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Add the chopped pecans and melted butter. Continue mixing with the fork until the sugar and pecans are fully mixed and evenly moistened by the butter. Reserve; this is your streusel topping.

For the cupcakes:

  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Cut the butter into cubes and place them in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on low speed, then medium, to cream the butter for a minute till it becomes light and airy.
  • Slowly add sugar to the bowl and beat for 2-3 minutes more, increasing the speed gradually and scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula periodically, until the color becomes lighter and the sugar is fully integrated into the butter.
  • Beat in the eggs, then the sour cream, then the almond or vanilla extract.
  • Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and stir till evenly moistened. Do not over-mix.
  • Line a cupcake tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Fill each tin halfway with batter. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is with a small ice cream scoop– use one small (not heaping) scoop per tin.
  • Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp of streusel onto the top of the batter in each tin.
  • Fill the tins the rest of the way with batter, all the way to the top of the tin (another small ice cream scoop of batter in each tin).
  • Sprinkle 1-2 tsp of streusel on the top of each cupcake.
  • Bake the cupcakes for 30-35 minutes till they test clean with a toothpick or skewer. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting glaze:

  • When ready to frost, make your vanilla glaze. In a small mixing bowl, sift the powdered sugar.
  • Add the rest of the glaze ingredients. Use a whisk to mix the ingredients till a creamy frosting forms. You want the consistency of thick honey; if you need a little more moisture, add milk a few drops at a time. Just a drop can take it from a thick honey to a runny texture, so add with care.
  • Line a glass with a plastic bag, wrapping the edge of the bag around the outer rim of the glass. This will help you fill it with frosting. Use a spatula to scoop the frosting into the bag.
  • Place cupcakes on top of a piece of parchment paper or paper towels to catch drips.
  • Work the frosting into the corner of the bag and snip off a small corner with scissors. Gently squeeze and drizzle the frosting in a zig-zag pattern across the top of the cupcakes.
  • Let the frosting dry for at least 30 minutes to set (it may take longer depending on the weather).

*** Please note: I chose not to make the frosting glaze simply due to the fact that I was too lazy. I found the cupcakes to be plenty sweet and coffee-cake like that I didn’t feel the need to add the glaze. But from the pictures on the website where I found the recipe, the glaze added a nice look (and I’m sure taste) to the cupcakes.

*** Second note: I only added half the amount of pecans to the streusel topping…BIG MISTAKE! I barely had enough topping for the middle and tops of the cupcakes. I was really rationing my stash for the last few cupcakes. Next time I might even double the streusel amounts since that crumbly texture is what I love  most about coffee cakes (:

Enjoy!

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Quin-what?! My first time eating quinoa!

Never before have I eaten quinoa, of any variety. Tonight as I sit in my apartment after returning from spending my Christmas vacation with my family I was forced to cook my own meal(s) once again. This is something that I just threw together from foods that I like to eat together and figured they’d taste pretty good with the quinoa…I was right. Preparing the quinoa couldn’t have been easier! If you can make rice, you can make quinoa…just be sure to follow the directions and rinse if it is called for!

This recipe is light, refreshing, and healthy! I’m trying to lose the extra poundage that I put on while being home…and this is a good first step. I used red quinoa but I’m sure regular quinoa would work perfectly fine, as well. It can be served warm, room temperature, or chilled. Since sitting here writing this post, my bowl has gone from warm to cold and everything in between. The entire process has tasted pretty darn good to me.

Here it goes:

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked (I used red quinoa)

handful cherry tomatoes, quartered

about 1/5 cucumber, peeled & diced

1/8 cup feta (I LOVE feta, so I forced myself not to dump the entire container into my bowl)

Add everything to a bowl and mix. It’s that easy!

I feel like this will be a great side for me to take with me on my longer class days this semester when I’m on campus for a majority of the day. Although I ate this as my main meal tonight, I feel like it is something better suited primarily as a side dish. I’m sure I’ll be craving something later due to the lack of protein in this meal (even though the red quinoa has 6g protein per 1/4 cup serving). I’m a hardcore carnivore and crave meat with practically every meal…that’s just how it goes.

Be sure to check back for more recipes that I’ll be posting soon! I bought a mini-donut maker over break and have been testing out recipes! I’ll also have to get creative this semester with my lunches and snacks that I take to class with me so I don’t get bored with my food, so that means a variety of recipes are sure to come!

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BANANA BARS!

Hi everyone, today I want to share with you a clean recipe for banana bars. These would be great to eat post-workout or even as a little snack between meals (possibly a late night snack while cuddled up on the couch watching a movie) – the possibilities are endless. Eat these for fun. Seriously. They’re that good. And they’re pretty good for you, too!

I found this recipe yesterday thanks to my YouTube obsession. Yes, I do have a problem and watch way too many YouTube videos, OH WELL. Cambria (aka. Bree from breelovesvlogs and breelovesbeauty) loves healthy foods and makes clean recipes with foods that are good for you. Plain and simple.

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Banana Bar Recipe:

2 large bananas or 4 small bananas (the more ripe, the better)          1/2 cup almond or peanut butter

1/4 cup melted coconut oil                                                                          3 whole eggs

1 cup almond meal or flour                                                                         3 Tbs shredded coconut a little baking soda

a little salt 1/3 dark chocolate or dairy free chocolate chips

Mix everything up in a bowl and then pour into a greased 13X9 pan.

Bake @ 350 for about 15-20 mins!

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After these cool, you can top them with whatever you want, melted peanut butter, nut butter, chocolate chips, marshmallow, peanut butter and chocolate mixed together?!?!?! … I’ll have to try that one at some point.

*** I did adapt this recipe with the ingredients that I was able to find or had on hand. My substitutions were:

  • all-purpose flour in place of the almond flour
  • vegetable oil in place of the melted coconut oil
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips in place of the dark chocolate or dairy free chocolate chips

To finish off the bars, I decided to top mine with a dab of Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl from Trader Joe’s.

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This stuff is SO GOOD! I was too lazy to melt it, so I just slathered it on top of my banana bar square. It all goes to the same place —> my belly <—, so no worries.

These bars are not super sweet, so obviously the more ripe your bananas are, the sweeter the bars will be. But I don’t mind the lack of sweetness. That’s what makes these great for snacking on before or after working out. It’s like a homemade power bar of sorts.

Let me know what you think about the recipe if you try it out! (:

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Exercise in the morning!

This morning I woke up at 6 in order to get my 30 minutes of cardio out of the way for the day. Going to school full time and working 20 hours a week Monday to Friday keeps me busy and I like to make sure I exercise daily (especially while training for this half marathon in December).

Well, my alarm went off at 6 and I hopped out of bed a bit groggy eyed and wondering if I should just sleep for another half hour and wake up for class at my normal time instead…needless to say I eneded up at the gym of my apartment complex tip-toe-ing around trying to find a lightswitch so I could actually see. I love using the arc trainer as my cardio equipment of choice on the days I don’t run. I can easily burn over 100 calories every ten minutes on that thing.

After running 5 miles yesterday evening my legs were not in the mood to hit the gym very hard this morning, so I opted to maintain an even, steady pace for the 30 minutes.

I’m so happy with  myself for waking up and exercising. I feel energized,  refreshed and ready to take on the day.  Plus, I don’t have the thought of having to squeeze in my routine later in the day hanging over my head. I can focus on school, work and eating properly. The only thing about waking up early is that in order to function and be coherent the next day, that means a bedtime of 10pm at the latest.

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A Day in the Life…Sunday!

Luckily, I’ve been blessed with a part-time job during school that doesn’t require me to work weekends! This is both a blessing and a curse. I have two whole days that I can catch up on school work, do laundry, workout, and do pretty  much whatever I want to fill my time. With that being said, I was quite productive this morning, but after my shopping excursion that I’m about to fill you in on, I haven’t gotten as much done this afternoon.

I’m absolutely in love with TJMaxx and it’s affiliate sister stores, Marshalls and HomeGoods. I also love walking into a Ross and looking at all the wonderful items they have in stock for hours on end. Lucky for me (but not my wallet), TJMaxx is the closest store to my apartment, and is where I decided to go to reward myself after finishing my last assignment for this past week. So, after writing my one page paper on the western gorilla diet, I grabbed my keys, phone and wallet and set off with giddy excitement. The best thing about these types of stores, in my opinion, is that the stock is constantly changing. Each week new shipments are brought in and stocked on the shelves so it’s like Christmas every time I walk into the store.

If I can get a nice, quality photo uploaded, I’ll insert it here, but until then I’ll make a list of what I bought.

1. finn&clover maxi skirt – retail: $22.00, TJM: originally $14.99, on clearance for $7.00

That’s right, I got an extremely comfortable black and white stripped (so it’ll go with pretty much anything, whoo!) maxi skirt for SEVEN DOLLARS. Since I’m definitely a saver more so than a spender, my wallet was very happy with that purchase.

2. wake up fuel & go! caramel apple flavored coffee – retail: $8.00, TJM: $4.99

I’ve been contemplating buying a fall flavored coffee to get into the spirit and festive feeling that Autumn usually brings. TJM had a pumpkin spice flavor that sounded great, but I decided to go with the apple flavor instead. Unfortunately, it’s still pretty warm where I live right now, to the dismay of many female college students who would love the opportunity to whip out their cute sweaters and UGG boots. This warm weather is really putting a damper on my excitement for fall.

3. essie nail polish “who is the boss” – retail: $8.00, TJM: $4.99

4. essie nail polish “navigate her” – retail: $8.00, TJM: $4.99

I have a pretty small nail polish collection to begin with, so once I saw the variety of colors TJM had in store today, I was sold. “who is the boss” is a muted gray/blue color and is currently on my nails (I just couldn’t wait). It’s a very nice fall/winter color and will go wonderfully with any outfit that I decided to wear with it. “navigate her” is a mossy, light green color and is my current nail polish color. Can you sense the excitement I had for these two colors? Again, this green color is a nice fall transition color. I don’t have any colors remotely like these in the polishes that I own, seeing as I usually gravitate towards pinks and blues.

Amount due: $22.57

I love coins, so of course I paid the full amount in cash, right down to the penny.

Overall, I would say it was a quite successful trip to TJMaxx and I’m very excited for the next time that I’ll step foot in store.

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Taco Salad!

I’ve been craving a salad recently…I mean a HUGE salad. I might also be itching for a salad due to the crisp vegetables and delicious tastes that one thinks of when the topic of salads comes up. Usually, I’m not too fond of my creations. Something always seems to be missing from my ingredients list and I have a hard time setting my salads apart from just the usual lettuce with dressing.

Well today, I made myself an amazing (and quite filling) taco salad! I’m a fan of taco-anything, so putting that delicious ground beef on a salad was a no brainer.0

*Today’s menu:

Taco meat (1 lb. ground beef, one packet 30% reduced sodium taco seasoning)

Romaine lettuce hearts (about 5 large leaves, chopped)

Handful cherry tomatoes (halved)           Handful baby bella mushrooms (chopped)

1 small green bell pepper                          Handful baby carrots

1 hard-boiled egg                                        1/4 cup peas

1/4 cup corn kernels                                   1/4 cup black beans

3 Tbsp. medium salsa                                 1 Tbsp. sour cream

1 Tbsp. ranch dressing                                Sprinkling of salad toppers

Mix it all together and … VIOLA! Tasty taco salad.

This was a gigantic salad and I devoured every last bit of it. Now I have a happy belly.

Also, making the entire pound of ground beef left about 2 more servings of left-overs for me to use in future recipes in the next couple of days. That’s what I call a win-win.

* Although this picture does not do the salad justice, rest assured that it was delicious.

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