When the announcement came down that dark chocolate is a super food, it was a great day. Of course, the parade quickly got rained upon with the addition of those two most-annoying words: “In Moderation.” And then, there’s been the constant reminder that chocolate is also high in fat — lest we go haywire.
But my recent deep dive into the avocado’s many facets has resulted in some delightful discoveries. Key among them: this key member of the super food royal family plays well with cocoa — serving as a “good fat” AND an egg substitute, letting the chocolate flavor rule. I posted a Chocolate Avocado Bundt Cake a few months ago, and now a variation on this game-changing combo — something more in the healthy, breakfast-muffin realm.
- 1 cup flour
- 2.3 cup dark cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 ripe avocado, well mashed with a fork
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup raw sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup ground walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda. Set aside.
- Pulse 1 cup walnuts in a food processor. The walnut “meal” serves to keep the muffins moist, and I like to leave some chunks as well.
- Beat mashed avocado, almond milk, vegetable oil, raw sugar and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients, followed by ground walnuts.
- Spoon batter into a prepared 12-muffin tin or paper liners. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
So we learned toward the end of 2012 that when it comes to predicting the end of the world, we don’t need to be looking to the Mayans. And that’s a good thing. More time to enjoy that culture’s most excellent of contributions: cocoa combined with cinnamon and a touch of cayenne.
I’ve been adding cinnamon and cayenne pepper to brownies for years, even when using (perish the thought) a box mix. The result is a little edge that takes the basic brownie to a new dimension. I’ve long struggled, though with trying to make a brownie from scratch, using cocoa — not chocolate chips or bakers chocolate — that was moist and chewy. I trust we can all agree that it’s just not right that a box mix can be better than what’s stirred up from scratch with love and real food. I think I hit upon it this week. The key: lots more cocoa than most recipes call for, and ground walnuts using a food processor or coffee grinder. The result: moist and chewy, not greasy, and quite tasty.
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups raw sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup unbleached flour
- 3/4 cup ground walnuts
- Preheat oven to 325 and line and 8″ x 8″ baking pan with foil. Coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- Grind walnuts in a food processor or coffee grinder. It’s not necessary to completely pulverize the nuts. Walnut chunks are always welcome in brownies.
- Melt butter and allow to cool slightly.
- Sift cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt. Combine sugar. Add butter is a steady stream, continuing to whisk.
- Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly. Stir in ground nuts, followed by flour. Stir until just combined.
- Pour batter into a prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top begins to crack.
- Lift the cooked brownies out of the pan using the sides of the foil. Allow to cool slightly and cut into squares.
Who knew that there was such a thing as the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission?
There’s nothing not to love about a whole commission devoted to a single root vegetable.
With a mission of promoting the consumption of sweet potatoes — Louisiana Sweet Potatoes in particular — the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission has managed to come up with a rather terrific site. Full of health information, fun sweet potato facts, and best of all — tons and tons of recipes that I am dying to try. I could spend the rest of the year devoted to exploring sweet potato possibilities.
I happened upon the site in the process of researching sweet potato pancake recipes. In the process I got waylaid with a lot of other recipes and the first among them is Apple Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins. I switched the recipe up a bit and turned it into Sweet Potato Apple Walnut Muffins. Let there be no doubt: one of the tastiest (and healthiest) muffins ever.
- 1 cup sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed (one cup)
- 1 cup whole wheat or unbleached white flour
- 1/3 cup ground flax seeds
- 2/3 cup raw sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3 Tbsp. canola oil
- 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Peel sweet potato and cut into several chunks. Boil for 20 minutes until very soft.
- Sift dry ingredients and set aside.
- Beat together eggs, oil, sugar, and yogurt. Drain sweet potatoes. Add one cup of the cooked sweet potatoes and continue mixing until potatoes are completely incorporated.
- Stir in chopped apples, walnuts and dry ingredients.
- Spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray or line tins with cupcake liners. Fill each 2/3 from the top and bake for 20-25 minutes until a muffin springs back when lightly touched.
From pancakes to muffins, smoothies to salads — steamed roasted and raw — beets and beet greens been the subject of lots of posts this year. I didn’t start 2013 with the intention exploring this deeply pigmented root from every possible angle. In fact, on a few occasions, I made a small determination to rein in my new-found fervor, and then I’d end up asking myself, “why stop now.”
The bottom line, I’ve barely just begun. Next on the docket: beet chips, assorted borscht recipes, pickled beets, and a beet cake. In the meantime, here’s a brief recap of the fun that we’ve had with beets for the first 8 months of 2013.
Beet Pancakes with Fresh Blueberry Syrup
Beet Apple Walnut Muffins
Beet Green and Kale Frittata
Yogurt, Blueberry and Beet Green Smoothie
Beet Green and Strawberry Smoothie
Hummus with Roasted Beets
Beet Carrot and Apple Slaw
Beet Pecan and Feta Salad
Beet and Garbanzo Bean Salad
Spinach and Beet Salad
Beet and Blueberry Salad
Moroccan Beet and Carrot Salad
Root Vegetable Hash
Quinoa with Roasted Beets
Beet Greens and Portobellos over Pasta
Beet Green Quiche in a Brown Rice Crust
After posting Almond Chocolate and Sweet Potato Power Bars nearly three months ago, my quest has continued for a tasty, protein-packed, real-food bar that could stand in for breakfast — or any meal in a pinch. There have been a few out-in-out failures, a few good tries, and finally this morning, a true success. These were fruity, spicy, mild, but tasty, and able to stand up to a grand-and-go situation.
Remembering a vegan brownie recipe that I had made a few years ago, and remembering that beans are a whopping source of protein, but that Garbanzo beans are milder with a sturdier texture, I took a crack at a Garbanzo-bean-based bar. The key: lots and lots of pulsing in the food processor and a hefty dose of spices to cover up any suspicion of eating a bean bar. By 10 a.m., we had some tasty little squares that were substantial, just over 200 calories each, and 6.1 grams of protein per bar.
- 14 1/2 oz. can of Garbanzo bean
- 1/2 cup raw sugar
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/2 banana
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 Tbsp. canola oil
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 Tbsp. ground flax
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Open Garbanzo beans into a colander and rinse very thoroughly. Add to a food processor along with raw sugar, raisins and 1/2 banana and process thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and process until all ingredients are completely pulverized.
- Spray 8″ x 8″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the very thick batter evenly in pan. Bake at 350 for 35 minute. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 9 squares.