Guilt-free Brownies

A couple months ago my mom found out that despite her healthy lifestyle, she had about 90% blockage in one of her arteries. Long story short, she had surgery to place a coil in said artery to keep it open. Her high cholesterol is simply a result of ‘bad genes’ (my grandpa – her dad – had triple bypass surgery when he was 48). So, we all began looking for ways to eat and live in a way that DECREASES cholesterol.

Enter, BEANS!

My food nemesis for most of my life.

I’ve disliked them for as long as I can remember. The past couple years I’ve become more open to them if in the right setting. Chick peas in a salad. Flavored hummus. Black beans in a Mexican salad. Kidney beans in chili. I had yet to try black beans in baking, however.

Until now.

Well, yesterday to be exact.

I tried making baked black beans (from a bag of dry beans) with Easter dinner. I failed. Followed directions but they still weren’t cooked. So I served frozen steamed veggies instead, and cooked the beans and saved them in the fridge. TO TRY THIS!

Here is the original recipe I pulled from. There are tons of recipes online – all you have to do is google it or search Pinterest. Next time I will probably try this recipe.

What changes did I make? I used vegetable oil instead of coconut. I also added 10 drops Wild Orange essential oil to offset any weird taste from the black beans.

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How are they? Well, the flavor is delicious (you can’t taste the beans). The texture however is not my favorite. They’re a little too dry for my taste. My solution? Top it with some homemade whipped cream of course! (Because homemade whipped cream seriously makes everything better.)

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What will I do differently next time? Try the Greek yogurt recipe, because it has less eggs (did you know that the more eggs you add, the ‘cake-ier’ your baked good will be?), and I think the melted chocolate helps the consistency. I like me a fudgy brownie! Like the kind that tastes like flourless chocolate cake. Because that’s my favorite. My weakness. I’ll still add the wild orange, because it’s just amazing. And I’ll probably still top it with homemade whipped cream, because you can ALSO add a few drops of wild orange oil to the whipped cream. It’s stinkin’ amazing. (Try it, and then dip some strawberries in it. Then experience a party in your happy mouth.) I will also add the chocolate chips INTO the batter. It’s just better that way, with chocolate chips in almost every bite. YUM!

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I’m loyal to one specific essential oil company, because I’ve found their purity stands far above the rest, and their educational support is second to none. To learn which one is my favorite, use my contact form and I’ll reply with details.
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Pork Fried (Cauliflower) “Rice”

Recently we’ve had so much going on that I kind of fell into one of those traps of making the same meals over and over every week. Sure, they’re good, but I’m getting pretty tired of the same sausage and tomato pasta!

In searching for new recipes to try, and also ones that were healthier, I remembered my good friend had posted that she made orange chicken with fried rice… but instead of rice, she used CAULIFLOWER! I know, it sounds like one of those substitutions that doesn’t even make sense and that everyone spits out.

Let me tell you, IT’S NOT. I made it tonight, substituting some leftover pork I was trying to use up, and I didn’t miss the rice, not one bit!

It’s a little messy turning the cauliflower into ‘rice’, but it’s super easy and kind of fool proof.

Here’s what you need:
1/2 head of cauliflower
Half an onion (I used red)
2 cloves garlic
About 2 carrots
About 1 TBLspn cooking oil
About 1 1/2 TBLspn coconut oil
2 eggs
About 1 cup cooked pork – loin or chop would work fine (I used leftovers from this)
Optional: green onion for garnish

First get your cauliflower ready. Chop up half the head of cauliflower and add it to the food processor. This is the part that’s a little messy; it’s just difficult to get it all in there without getting tiny crumbs all over the counter and floor. Once it’s in there, pulse until it’s at a rice-like consistency. Honestly? Mine looked more like couscous or quinoa, but it still turned out fantastic, so you don’t have to be too particular about this. Just be sure you stop before you turn it into a puree. Side note: of course you’re going to wash it before you chop it, but make sure you ring out all the water and/or pat it dry after chopping. If you don’t, the water will turn it into a puree!

Next, chop the onion and finely chop the garlic cloves. Drizzle the cooking oil in a deep skillet and heat it over medium heat. Once hot, toss in the onion. Let cook for about 2 minutes, then add in the garlic. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile cut up the carrots. I actually only had baby carrots, so I cut them in quarters lengthwise, then chopped so they were diced like you see in fried rice so often. Add those in the pan too and stir, cooking for approximately 5 minutes.

Then, using a spatula to get it all out, add in the cauliflower ‘rice’. Stir of course! Add the coconut oil. Then crack the eggs into the pan, on top of the cauliflower, one at a time. Just crack them in whole, and stir!! Once incorporated, let cook for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir once to prevent burning and sticking to the pan.

While that’s cooking, chop up the pork, then add it in with the cauliflower and stir. Cook until everything is warm, stirring frequently. You can also garnish it with some fresh chopped green onion. (I wish we’d have had some!) You could also add diced celery if you have it.

And that’s IT! I told you it was easy. And quick! And healthy! All the things we want in one recipe 🙂

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Oh. And drizzle a little sriracha. Because it’s good.
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Hope you enjoy! If you try it be sure to come back to comment how your family liked it!

An Excellent Article: “Food is not your God”

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I do my best to feed my family healthy meals, but I am not an extreme health nut – by that I mean:
* I don’t buy strictly organic.
*I don’t follow any gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free, sugar-free, pesticide-free or meat-free strict diet
*I buy fresh produce whenever possible, and organic when it’s in our budget.
*I eat as much whole wheat as possible.
*I buy generic milk, eggs, cheese, and other grocery items.
*I also buy frozen vegetables (it’s actually supposed to preserve the nutrients better)
*I can’t wait for the day (hopefully this spring!) when I have the time & money to buy from the local farmer’s market instead of making only one trip to the store per week.
*I use butter & margarine, non-organic milk, and I feed my kids fruit snacks (that are not organic!)
*I drink beer and wine.

There’s a lot of research out there, and for every argument there is supportive evidence why something is good or bad for you. If you get caught up in it (like I did!) you will feel guilty EVERY. TIME. you put something in your mouth. I felt trapped. Like nothing I ate was healthy, so why bother even trying? BRING ON THE GREASY SPOON!!

I finally had to just let it go, and do my very best to feed my family as healthily as I could while staying within our budget. I pray over our meals. This article puts it in perspective even more though, because God does give us everything richly to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17) – including our food!!! Our Senior Pastor Bill Hybels taught on Self-Control this weekend. He made a great point: that self-control and delayed gratification are important for success in any endeavor, but if you don’t reward yourself occasionally or celebrate when you reach your goals, you will end up hating your life. (Or, in my opinion, become proud and haughty, and reliant on your own skills instead of relying on GOD.) And that’s not the kind of life God wants for us – because He came that we might have and enjoy our life, in abundance, to the full, until it overflows (John 10:10).

Read the article here, and let me know what you think — Have you struggled in regards to  food choices? What did you struggle with specifically, and how did you overcome that struggle?