Tips for a Vegan Newbie

The Vegan Experience: Top 10 Tips For a First-Time Vegan

So I am pretty much a #glutenfree #vegan (UPDATE: I did not mean to offend any true vegans. I have so much respect for those of you who truly are vegan. The technical term for my diet is Ovo-Pescatarian since I eat eggs and seafood. The dairy free and gluten free are in place due to intolerances. Hope this clears things up!! <3).

However, I think these tips can help anyone going #dairyfree or even just looking to eat #healthy and incorporate more fruits, veggies and plant based #protein into your #diet!

The Vegan Experience: Top 10 Tips For a First-Time Vegan
Source: Serious Eats

THE CHIA ‘CHEAT SHEET’

THE CHIA ‘CHEAT SHEET’ by Angela Stokes

I am sharing the below content directly from The Raw Reform website. The following is not original content but I don’t think I could have said it better myself!

What is Chia Seed?
Vegan Chai Chia PuddingChia seed is an ancient superfood that is currently experiencing a glorious renaissance 😉 It is a member of the sage family (Salvia Hispanica). The little black and white seeds were once a staple of the Incan, Mayan and Aztec cultures, along with the Native Americans of the southwest.

“Chia” is actually the Mayan word for strength. The seeds were used by these ancient cultures as mega-energy food, especially for their running messengers, who would carry a small pouch of it with them. Chia has been called ‘Indian Running Food’ and gives an incredibly ‘sustaining’ surge of energy.

Why would you want to eat Chia?
Chia seeds are said to have:

  • 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain,
  • 5 times the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that
    helps transfer calcium into your bones,
  • 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas,
  • 3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • copious amounts of omega 3 and omega 6, which are essential fatty acids…
  • They are a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form. They are also a fabulous source of soluble fibre. 

Like flax, chia is highly ‘hydrophilic’ – the seeds absorb water and create a mucilaginous gel. They can hold 9-12 times their weight in water and they absorb it very rapidly – in under 10 minutes.Antioxidants
One advantage of chia is that because it has such a high antioxidant content, the seeds stay stable for much longer, whereas flax, for example, may turn rancid. Chia seeds can easily be stored dry for 4-5 years without deterioration in flavour, odour or nutritional value. You can substitute chia in any recipe that calls for flax.

Mild Taste
The taste of chia is very mild and pleasant. That means you can easily combine it with other foods without changing the taste dramatically. People add chia to their sauces, bread batters, puddings, smoothies and more. The flavour is retained, plus masses more nutrition is added 😉

The ‘Dieter’s Dream Food’
Chia has been called a dieter’s dream food because when added to foods, it bulks them up, displacing calories and fat without diluting the flavour. Thus, someone can eat a typical serving, yet only consume about half the calories they might have eaten, because the food has been bulked up with chia. PLUS, the eater gets a bellyful of nutrient-rich superfood goodness, which hydrates and sustains them – magic 😉

What are some other benefits of eating Chia? 

  • Provides energy
  • Boosts strength
  • Bolsters endurance
  • Levels blood sugar
  • Induces weight loss
  • Aids intestinal regularity

Sugar AbsorptionVegan Chai Chia Pudding
Chia slows the impact of sugars on the system, if eaten together. Chia gel creates a physical barrierbetween carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, which slows the conversion of carbs into sugar. That means the energy from the food is released steadily, resulting in more endurance. This is clearly of great benefit to diabetics in particular. It also means that I can combine chia with super-sweet tastes like apple juice and not get super-spiked 😉

Absorb and Retain Water
Due to the exceptional water-absorption quality of chia, it can help you prolong hydration and retainelectrolytes, especially during exertion.

Easy to Digest
Whole, water-soaked chia seeds are easily digested and absorbed. Their tiny dinosaur-egg-like shells break down quickly. They feel light in the body, yet energising. Their nutrients can be quickly assimilatedinto the body.Intestinal Broom
Chia seeds bulk up, then work like an incredible digestive broom, sweeping through your intestinal tract, helping to dislodge and eliminate old accumulated waste in the intestines. Many people find their stools also become more regular once they eat chia.

Inexpensive
Chia is a very reasonably priced, concentrated food. Our 1lb bags cost $8. 1/3 cup of dry chia seeds (2 ounces) makes about 17 ounces of chia gel. This costs about $1. Depending on how much gel you use, those 17oz will likely last, on average, about four days. That is about 25cents a day. 

Versatile
Chia can be used in so many kinds of recipes – savoury, sweet – it works with anything. You might want to try them in salad dressings, cookie mixtures, smoothies, crackers, ice creams, juices and so on.

Gluten-Free
Chia seed protein contains no gluten. This makes it ideal for anyone with a gluten sensitivity or simply wanting to find a replacement for gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, rye and oats.

Which medical conditions can Chia help relieve or support?
Chia is reported to be beneficial for a vast range of issues, for example:

  • weight loss/balance
  • thyroid conditions
  • hypo-glycaemia
  • diabetes
  • IBS
  • celiac disease
  • acid reflux
  • lowering cholesterol

In the traditional cultures that consumed chia, like the Aztecs, chia was also regarded as a medicine. It was used in myriad ways – from cleaning the eyes to helping heal wounds, topically, to relieving joint pain and so on. It was considered extremely valuable for healing.

Regeneration
Chia aids rapid development of tissue, due to its incredible nutrient profile and easy assimilation. It can be very beneficial for those healing from injuries, people like bodybuilders who are always re-forming tissues and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How do you use Chia?Vegan Chai Chia Pudding
The most common way to eat chia is to first soak the seeds. They can very rapidly absorb a large amount of liquid – between 9-12 times their volume, in under 10 minutes.

The Basic Gel
To make a basic chia gel, simply add 1/3 cup of seeds (2oz) to 2 cups of water. Stir the mixture well, to avoid clumping, then leave it in your fridge, in a sealed jar. This will yield around 17oz of chia gel. You can begin to eat the gel almost immediately if you like. Just 10 minutes is enough time for the gel to be formed. More of the nutrients will be easily accessible after a few hours however, so many people like to make up a batch like this and leave it in the fridge. It will stay good for about three weeks. Then you can just reach into the fridge and take out some of the ready-made gel whenever you need it. You might add it to smoothies, mix it with salad dressings, puddings or granola, or simply take it by the spoonful.

Beyond Water…
As mentioned above, chia will absorb anything – it doesn’t have to soak in water. We like soaking it in things like apple juice for example. That way, the intense sweetness of the apple juice is also offset by the chia and it tastes yummy ;). We also often blend fruits – for example bananas and persimmons, then stir the chia into that mixture. Again, the longer the seeds are left to soak, the more their nutrients will be readily available to you, yet you could easily eat a meal like this 10 minutes or less after preparing it.

Whole Seeds
You can also sprinkle the dry seeds onto salads or add them to granola mixes. You may also want to experiment with grinding them first in a coffee grinder, to make a ‘chia flour’ you can then add to smoothies, soups and so on.

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

First of all I need to apologize for being MIA recently! Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter are probably sick of me on the other hand!

I have been keeping up with social media and have been cooking up a storm but have not have two minutes to get on here and write up a blog post and edit pictures and type out the recipe to share with you all! I am so sorry for teasing you with yummy pictures on Facebook and Twitter and not getting around to posting the full recipes on here. I promise I am working on it and will get each and every delicious meal, snack and dessert to you very soon!

So naturally, despite having about ten recipes worth of photos to share with you guys from the last few weeks. I decided tonight I wanted to share this scrumptious belly warming pudding I made last night and have since consumed all of: dessert last night, breakfast this am (2 servings) and dessert tonight. It super duper healthy and just sweet enough to help with the ice cream cravings. *I am making an attempt over the next few days to drastically reduce my dairy intake and then going to  go dairy free completely for a week to see if it helps improve a few symptoms I have been experiencing lately. It is common for people to become dairy intolerant after going gluten free. As their intestines and guts begin to heal, the body becomes more sensitive to foods that it probably had issues with in the past but were secondary to which ever major intolerance first arose… for  me that was gluten. When this happens, many of your initial symptoms return and/or new ones arise and you have to work on eliminating each potential culprit to figure out which food is your trouble area. For me, I have a strong feeling it is dairy. But to be completely honest, while I want to feel better, I am really hoping I am wrong! I love me some coconut or almond or soy ice cream, but I will miss all the amazing flavors and options in the non-dairy free section!!*

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

Vegan Chai Chia PuddingMy ideas for this recipe came from this recipe for tapioca pudding. I have been a little obsessed with Chai Tea lately… it has been the first thing I have had every morning the last week! I know it’s summer and 80 degrees out but when I wake up to my chilly condo after getting out of my nice warm cozy bed, tea just hits the spot! Especially Chai! I love the combination of vanilla and cardamon and cinnamon and ginger in one delicious warm cup of heaven! This recent obsession started when I found this amazing box of Good Earth Vanilla Chai Tea at Big Lots for super cheap!

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

This recipe combines the amazing superfood nutrition of Chia Seeds with the heavenly flavors of Chai and the soothing creaminess of pudding. It is so simple to make and can be chilled for several days and eaten cold or warm. Try adding fresh chopped berries or banana for an extra special twist! Be sure to sub the honey out if you want this to be vegan!

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Calories per serving: 123; Fiber 4.5 grams

Fat per serving: 5.7; Protein 3.9 grams

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

You can prep/make this multiple different ways. You can soak the chia seeds over night. You can chill the pudding overnight for a thicker texture. You can serve warm like oatmeal. And you can add any mix ins your heart desires. You can also leave the oats out if you wish, but I recommend adding more chia seeds at the end if you decide to do this since the oats absorb the extra liquid and help thicken the pudding.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Soak chia in cup of water till saturated and they have swelled to about ten times their original size. You can also soak these overnight the night before you make your pudding.
  2. Bring almond milk and chopped ginger to a boil and tie off the chai tea bag to the pot so it can begin brewing in the milk.
  3. Once boiling, reduce milk to a simmer and add cinnamon, vanilla and honey (or sweetener of choice!)
  4. NOTE: Honey is NOT vegan! Use agave, maple syrup or sweetener of choice for a completely vegan pudding!
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes until flavors are well combined. Add more spices at this point if you so desire.
  6. Remove from heat and stir milk tea mixture, the chia seed gel and your oats together.
  7. Eat warm or let chill over night for a thicker pudding consistency as the oats and chia seeds continue to absorb more liquid. Try adding strawberries or bananas chopped on top for an extra special twist!

Notes

You can prep/make this multiple different ways. You can soak the chia seeds over night. You can chill the pudding overnight for a thicker texture. You can serve warm like oatmeal. And you can add any mix ins your heart desires. You can also leave the oats out if you wish, but I recommend adding more chia seeds at the end if you decide to do this since the oats absorb the extra liquid and help thicken the pudding.

http://www.andasideoficecream.com/2014/06/03/vegan-chai-chia-pudding/

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

I’m a little proud of this recipe! It is seriously delicious and super nutritious thanks to the Chia Seeds! Even my boyfriend who, isn’t Gluten Free or Dairy Free or Vegetarian, gave i his tamp of approval! He had never had chia before and doesn’t love almond milk so I take that as a pretty big ringing endorsement!

Reader Response:

  • I would love feedback on how many of my readers are gluten free! Are you diagnosed Celiac or gluten intolerant?
  • If you are gluten free, did other intolerance develop over time as you began to heal?
  • What were your symptoms? TIA
  • And last but not least, what is your favorite way to use chia?

Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial DayI want to take a moment to thank and acknowledge all the men and women who have given their lives protecting our country. The United States military dedicates their lives everyday to give us the opportunity to “celebrate” holidays such as this. Please make sure that while you are with your friends and families, at cookouts or the beach or wherever you choose to spend your day off from work, that you take a moment to remember what Memorial Day is really all about and to thank the veterans and current military members in your life! I know I couldn’t do what they do!

Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad
So since I am hoping this weekend will also include a gathering of friends and family for you, or maybe just a nice day at home, I wanted to share this amazingly refreshing summer salad recipe with you! It is the perfect healthy dish to bring to a cookout or to serve as a side dish with a nice white fish or shrimp. You cold even add some leafy greens and make tacos with this as the filling! Or use it as a dip with gluten free corn chips! I love the Late July brand! They have so many yummy flavors… all gluten free!!

Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad
This whole recipe takes about 30 minutes! I am even gunna give you a step by step for making this WHILE you get ready for your party! If you are a guy, just totally ignore the hair and makeup parts. In fact you probably only take 20 minutes to get ready so just go make this for your girlfriend while she is getting ready!! Sooo rinse your quinoa super well to avoid that nasty soapy flavor it might have if you don’t rinse it! Prepare quinoa according to package or the directions below. Once removed from the heat, jump in the shower. When you are so fresh and so clean come back and fluff the quinoa and place in a large bowl in the fridge. Chop your apple, onion, pepper and mandarin oranges and place in a medium bowl. Mince the garlic, cilantro and jalapeno and place in another medium bowl. Go dry your hair!

Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad

While your straightener/curler is heating up come back and whip together the dressing following the directions below.

Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad

Go do your make up and hair and put your party dress on! 🙂

Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad

Ok now that you are all pretty and ready for your party, gently toss the veggies and fruit with half of the dressing and fold mixture into the chilled quinoa. Drizzle the second half of the dressing onto salad and gently until flavors are thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the remaining cilantro.

Enjoy your salad and your party and remember to thank the troops… today and everyday!

Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Calories per serving: 147; Fiber 2.6 grams

Fat per serving: 4.8, Protein: 3.8 grams

Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad

Ingredients

    Salad:
  • 1 c organic quinoa (I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Quinoa, I usually buy Bob's Red Mill products but this one is significantly cheaper)
  • 1 large gala apple, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 2 small mandarin oranges, diced
  • 1/2 large bell pepper, diced (I used an orange one... I like the sweetness in them better)
  • Dressing:
  • Juice of 3 limes (about 1/3 cup) - use fresh... the bottled just isn't the same
  • 1 T local honey (agave nectar will work as well)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (use less if you don't like spice!)
  • 1-2 minced garlic cloves (use fresh not jarred!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 T POMPEIAN OlivExtra Original Canola & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Blend (can use canola oil or olive oil, or a combo of both... I like this brand for dressings!)
  • 3/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • Kosher salt
  • Black Pepper

Instructions

    Salad:
  1. Rinse the quinoa in a strainer several times with cold water (Don't skip this step! You will be left with a "soapy" tasting bowl of what could have been delicious quinoa!).
  2. Bring 2 cups water to boil in a covered medium pot.
  3. Add quinoa, cover and simmer until the water is fully absorbed (approx 15 minutes).
  4. Remove from heat and let stand, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
  5. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl to let cool. (Place in fridge, uncovered to speed this process up if necessary)
  6. Dice your apple, red onion, bell pepper and mandarin oranges (peeled of course).
  7. Place the diced fruits and veggies in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
  8. Dressing:
  9. Combine the lime juice, honey, diced jalapeno, minced garlic and cumin in a glass mixing bowl, whisking briskly.
  10. Slowly add the oil while whisking to combine evenly.
  11. Once the vinaigrette is smooth, whisk in chopped cilantro (MINUS 1 heaping tablespoon) as well as the lime zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  12. Combine:
  13. Pour in about half of the honey cilantro lime vinaigrette into the bowl of chopped fruits and veggies, gently toss to combine.
  14. Fold this mixture into the quinoa and drizzle in the remaining vinaigrette. Again, gently toss to combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.
  15. Transfer the quinoa salad to a large serving bowl, garnish with remaining cilantro and serve immediately (or cover and keep in refrigerator for up to two days).
  16. ENJOY!

Notes

NOTE: The longer this sits in the dressing the more garlicky it will taste. Be aware of this if you plan to make ahead of time. I recommend dressing directly before serving.

Inspired by: Food Network

http://www.andasideoficecream.com/2014/05/25/spicy-quinoa-citrus-salad/

Spicy Quinoa Citrus Salad

Reader Feedback:

  • What are your holiday plans?
  • What is your favorite quinoa recipe?
  • What are you bringing to your holiday party… or are you brave enough to be the host!?

Gluten Free on the Go: Survival of the fittest… Or at least the most prepared!

20140525-084534-31534434.jpg

Go Gluten Free on the Go

Sometimes surviving the “hangery” phase requires creative thinking and planning ahead!

Check out a few of these recipes for perfect on the go snacks:
24 Calorie Banana Cocoa Nut Bites

24 Calorie Banana Cocoa Nut Bites

Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

Chewy Chocolate Banana Flax Muffins

Chewy Chocolate Banana Flax Muffins

I hope these tips make your holiday weekend a little easier! Happy Memorial Day!

Ridiculously Healthy Veggie Fettuccine (Vegan & GF)

Ridiculously Healthy Veggie Fettuccine Gluten Free

Have you heard of Nasoya Pasta Zero!?! I just recently discovered these noodles at Publix in the produce section with the vegan cheeses and tofu products! I admit I was super skeptical of any product that looks like pasta, comes in a watery liquid AND has a claim to fame for it’s insanely low calorie count! 15 Calories! That’s it! You can eat the entire bag for 30 calories, which is a HUGE serving!
The equivalent amount of regular wheat, corn or rice pasta would be approximately 23o calories!

Nasoya Shirataki Nutrition Facts
Ingredients:
water, konjac flour, chickpea flour, potato starch, calcium hydroxide, reduced iron, folic acid

Pasta Zero FAQs

What are Shirataki Noodles?Ridiculously Healthy Veggie Fettuccine (Vegan & Gluten Free)
A traditional Japanese noodle made from the Konjac plant root. Shirataki noodles have little flavor but absorbs the delicious flavors you cook with. They can be used just like regular pasta but will save you a boat load in calories and carbs!

Why do Pasta Zero Shirataki Noodles have a unique smell?
Actually, all shirataki noodles have a slight fishy smell thanks to the Konjac plant root, which is used to make the noodles. It’s completely safe and is a natural smell which will decrease as the noodles are rinsed and cooked.

Are Pasta Zero Shirataki Noodles Gluten Free and Vegan?Ridiculously Healthy Veggie Fettuccine (Vegan & Gluten Free)
Yes

How do I cook with Pasta Zero Shirataki Noodles?
Be sure to drain and rinse the noodles under warm water for a couple minutes before using them.

Are Pasta Zero Shirataki Noodles made with non-GMO ingredients?
Yes, all Nasoya products are made using non-GMO ingredients.

Pasta Zero All Natural Shirataki Fettuccine Noodles

  • All Natural
  • Non-GMO
  • Fat Free
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Low Calorie
  • Low Carb
  • Fortified with Iron

 

These noodles are similar to tofu in that they take on the flavor that you cook them with. They had a slightly chewier texture than normal pasta but it was so satisfying to have such a huge bowl of food for such low caloric intake! Enjoy and let me know what ingredients you decide to add! The recipe below is how I gobbled them up!

Ridiculously Healthy Veggie Fettuccine (Vegan & GF)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 large servings

Serving Size: 1/2 recipe

Calories per serving: 118; Fiber 5.5 grams

Fat per serving: 1.4; Protein 3 grams

Ridiculously Healthy Veggie Fettuccine (Vegan & GF)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse the noodles VERY well under warm water for a couple minutes before using them.
  2. Heat pan over medium heat with 1/2 tbsp of unrefined coconut oil.
  3. Chop bell pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes into large chunks.
  4. Drain and rinse corn. Set aside 1/3 of the can.
  5. Add all veggies to the hot pan and saute until heated through and cooked to your liking. I prefer to leave a little crunch to mine!
  6. Add noodles for the last three minutes of cooking and toss in seasonings of your choice. The noodles with loose their slightly funky smell while they are being cooked and will begin to take on the flavors you choose.
  7. Split into two large servings and enjoy your ridiculously low calorie and healthy meal!
http://www.andasideoficecream.com/2014/05/16/ridiculously-healthy-veggie-fettuccine-vegan-gluten-free/

Ridiculously Healthy Veggie Fettuccine (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Reader Response:

  • Can you get past the funky smell or look of certain foods pre-cooked?
  • Is a slightly chewy texture worth the 200 less calories to you!?
  • What ingredients would you like to try with these noodles? I am thinking about trying a vegan cheese sauce!

So many recipes… so little time! PS. Happy Mother’s Day!!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mothers Day

I hope all of you have had an amazing day! There is absolutely nothing like the love of a mother. Mother’s are the most selfless, giving, loving people in the world! I can’t imagine a day without my amazing mom! She has made me the woman I am today and started my love for cooking when I was very little! Her favorite thing in the world, even after a long day at work, is to spend hours in the kitchen, creating delicious and healthy masterpieces for the family. She loves hosting dinner parties and having family and friends over for the holidays. I feel so lucky every day for everything she has taught me <3

———————————————————————————————————————-

I also wanted to let you all know that as soon as I possibly can I will be posting so many new and fun recipes! I have them! I have the photos! I have taken the time to taste test and devour each and every delicious bite… just for you of course! And I am so excited to share them all with you!

Recipes Coming Soon Collage

Here is a mini collage of a few of my favorite recent recipes! Once I have them all posted I will link them back to this post as well 🙂

LEFT: Zesty Lime Shrimp Tacos

TOP RIGHT: Citrus Cilantro Quinoa Salad with a Kick

BOTTOM RIGHT: 30 Calorie Veggie Fettuccine

I have been insanely busy lately… which is a great thing, but I am dying to have more time with my fingers on this keyboard to type up fun posts and the detailed recipes for everyone. I feel pretty confident you will all be excited to try them. I have been experimenting with savory meals lately to counteract my never ending sweet tooth and am pretty darn happy with the results!

Reader Response:

Black Bean Zucchini Brownies (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

I got so excited when I decided to make this recipe I completelyyyy forgot to take pictures until the batter was mixed! I am so sorry! I promise you didn’t miss much. The exciting part is that this insane list of recipes come to together to look AND taste like brownie batter! And it’s completely vegan so eat away! Hey, screw the baking step if you want and just put it straight in the fridge and use it to dip apples or strawberries or oranges or whatever fruit you like!

My boyfriend and I were literally sitting on the couch after dinner and both looked at each other and laughed. We know the look of “Holy crap I need something sweet and NOW!” He said his mouth was watering for brownies and ice cream or something equally sinful! Naturally I thought that sounded divine! My light bulb went off and I grabbed my computer to find the 20+ flourless brownie recipes I had pinned over the last several weeks that I had been wanting to try making them! I would tell you which recipes I referenced, but there were soooo many I looked at and they each were totally different and my recipe is unlike ANY of them that it would be pointless because naturally I think mine is best 😉

Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

I knew I wanted them to have black beans because… well… that’s what all the cool kids are doing! I also knew I wanted them to have as little sugar as possible and preferably have them be vegan. Most of the recipes I could find called for coffee, or cayenne, or balsamic vinegar?! Yikes! I am up for just about any flavor combo but I wanted to keep it simple. I know baking can be super finicky with amounts of each ingredient, especially when going gluten free, but to be perfectly honest: I didn’t care if these didn’t rise! And I didn’t care if they were dense and fudgey. And I didn’t care if I had to chill them to get them to set completely. Chocolate is chocolate and in my opinion, as long as they tasted like heaven and were freakishly good for me at the same time…. I was sold!

Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

So the adventure started. I pulled my black beans and cocoa powder out. Those were literally the only things that I knew for sure that I wanted in them. The rest was based on what I had in the house/my desire to make them vegan and low fat! I have sen a bunch of recipes for zucchini chocolate banana bread so I decided to add zucchini into the mix. If you brownies have two veggies in them they can be eaten for breakfast right? ok ok how about lunch?!

Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

The rest of the ingredients were substitutions and necessities for baking. I used unsweetened natural applesauce for the eggs AND the oil (like I said, I wasn’t worried about them not rising and being dense and fudgey). I used extra baking powder because I read that you can use applesauce as an egg sub if you add extra baking powder. I had flax and chia on hand but was nervous about them giving a flavor to the brownies and to be honest I REALLY wanted to just taste the chocolate. In my experience, applesauce has pretty much no flavor when used in baking. Lastly, I added a mix of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend and Domino Light Brown Sugar as well as, of course, vanilla extract.

 Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

I also swirled in my favorite creamy peanut butter, Crazy Richard’s 100% All Natural, as a surprise for my boyfriend. If you are new to my blog then you missed the stories about his favorite food “groups”… Parmesan cheese, hot sauce and peanut butter haha not all together but he loves them all and puts them on anything he can! You could also add chocolate chunks or chopped nuts or shredded coconut or anything your heart desires!

Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

The only important thing about this recipe is getting all of the ingredients completely mixed together! There are only three steps in the whole process.

  1. Shred the zucchini and squeeze out the extra liquid (I used my food processor. It is going to be going back in there anyways so that works just fine).
  2. Mix zucchini, beans, applesauce, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder and vanilla together in a bowl and add to food processor; mix on high until smooth and creamy like brownie batter (It’s totally fine if there are chunks, but of course they will be in the brownies. Up to you).
  3. Bake (below is a pic of it half way through the baking)!

Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

If you count cooling and waiting to taste them for at least five minutes, so you don’t burn your fingers, then I guess there are four step 😉

Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

Black Bean Zucchini Brownies (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 15 brownies

Serving Size: 1 brownie

Calories per serving: 61, Fiber 2.8 grams

Fat per serving: 1.4; Protein 2.8 grams

Black Bean Zucchini Brownies (Vegan & Gluten Free)

These will be very soft in the center still but the edges should be sturdy. These are 100% edible totally raw so don't worry if they aren't completely done. They are also pretty hard to burn so cooking a little too long shouldn't hurt either.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Spray an 8 x 8 brownie pan (or a 9 x 11 if you're like me and don't own a square one!) with cooking spray and set a side.
  3. In a food processor or blender add all the ingredients, except the peanut butter. You can do this in two batches if you cant fit it all, but make sure that both are equally mixed and smooth!
  4. Heat your peanut butter in a small microwave safe dish until it is warm and a little drippy but not boiling.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and gently swirl the peanut butter in on top... feel free to add chocolate chips (these one are Vegan!, nuts or more peanut butter if you want!
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, insert a toothpick, if it comes out cleanish, brownies are done (the center will probably never allow for a totally clean toothpick. The edges might).
  7. Leave in pan to cool before cutting. If you can wait... SEE NOTES!!

Notes

These will be very soft in the center still but the edges should be sturdy. These are 100% edible totally raw so don't worry if they aren't completely done. They are also pretty hard to burn so cooking a little too long shouldn't hurt either.

I suggest chilling them completely in the fridge before cutting. Other wise you might end up having to eat them with a spoon! I could think of worse things that eating healthy brownie batter with a spoon! 😉

http://www.andasideoficecream.com/2014/05/03/black-bean-zucchini-brownies-vegan-gluten-free/

Healthy Black Bean Zucchini Brownies

Reader Response:

  • What are the craziest things you have added to healthy treats?
  • Do you tell your friends and family when you sneak fruits & vegetables into their snacks?
  • Do you like the denseness of these? I am thinking of making them again with coconut flour! What do you think?

Real Scoop Sundae: Shakedown on Shakeology

If you missed part 1 of my Shakeology review last Sunday, be sure to check it out now!

shakeology vs other foods

In my pre-review last week I filled you all know in on my past exposure to Shakeology, as well as my opinion of most other protein powders on the market. This week I anxiously awaited the arrival of my Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla Shakeology samples from an awesome Beachbody coach that was willing to part ways with a few of hers. Thank you Juli! Thursday I received an awesome little package in the mail with my samples (how freaking adorable is the bow!?) and a super sweet note. I was so excited to wake up Friday morning to get my shake on!

Get your own taste sampler!

Shakeology Samples Shakeology Samples

And then this happened…

Shakeology Spill

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that instead of crying over spilt milk I slurped it up! That’s right. I drank half of my first Shakeology shake straight off my desk. As Juli said… “it’s liquid gold!” I couldn’t waste a drop especially after tasting it and knowing how delicious it was! I used my Magic Bullet to mix up a delicious concoction of Vanilla Shakeology, banana, strawberries, blueberries and unsweetened almond milk! Before adding all this deliciousness to the blender I tried about 1/6 of the mix in about 2oz of water and blended them together to make it thick and creamy. It wasn’t half bad! Personally, I preferred it spruced up with fruits and almond milk but would definitely drink it with just water or almond milk in a pinch!
NOTE: Someday I will own a Vitamix but until then my Magic Bullet does the trick! I use it for everything!

Magic Bullet Vitamix

Things I look for in a smoothie or shake are thickness (needs to at least stick to the spoon… best way to achieve this is frozen fruits), creaminess (I prefer some sort of milk in mine versus juice or water), nutritional value (I try to have lots of protein in my first meal of the day… and I do prefer to keep it under 400 calories so I can have room for two more meals and snacks throughout my day) and of course flavor (I actually love the taste of health foods… adding spinach, flax, chia and other supplements are part of my daily routine. As my boyfriend would say… “earthy flavors” lol). This shake hit all four qualifications for a good shake right on the head!

Vanilla ShakeologyI was able to easily get a spoonful of this shake without worrying about it dripping on the way to my mouth but was thin enough to drink through a straw. I used unsweetened almond milk and frozen bananas to add the perfect level of creaminess. This shake contained 1 serving of Vanilla Shakeology, 3/4 a frozen banana, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup fresh blueberries and 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. The nutritional value is as follows: 318 calories, 6 grams fat, 10 grams fiber, 388 grams potassium ANDD most importantly 18 grams protein! I don’t know too many vegetarian breakfast foods out there that can make that kind of nutrition into such a low calorie meal! (I know eggs and bacon and many other meats can get you that much protein but guess what… they are also loaded with cholesterol!)

shakeologyAnimated-white wide

Chocolate ShakeologyMy second and third Shakeology were made with the Chocolate flavor. OMG! They have a slogan: “Hate eating veggies? Acts like a salad, tastes like a dessert!” Well it is true! I really thought I would like the Vanilla best, but I was way wrong. The chocolate was the perfect combo of milk and dark chocolate when I tried it with just water. Creamy like the vanilla but not to sweet or too tart and tasted like a chocolate milk shake! I mentioned above that I like my smoothies to be thick enough to eat with a spoon, but thin enough to drink with a straw. The picture to the left is an attempt to capture that in my chocolate, banana, strawberry smoothie this morning. Not sure if you can tell, but the spoon had to be tipped a fair amount before it would spill. And I had no problem slurping every last drop with a straw.

Shakeology-Vs-Real-World

So I know lots of you are wondering about the value of this product. Yes, it is more expensive than most other protein powders on the market. But check out this comparison chart of Shakeology versus other breakfast and lunch options. Turns out the regular price is cheaper than almost every other option in this comparison… and if you get the club or coach price… it is WAY cheaper! Saving even a dollar a day adds up! Ask me how to get a discounted price!!

Shakeology NutritionPossibly more important than anything (to me at least!) is the nutritional value of these shakes. I took a picture of the Vanilla sample package to share the ingredients with you, which can also be found on their website. These shakes pack an amazing punch into each and every scoop of the product! Each scoop contains a blend of: protein, antioxidant superfoods, adaptogen herbs, pre- and probiotics, a fiber & enzyme blend and last, but not least, phytonutrient super-greens!

I know that sounds like a lot of big words but here are a few you might know: high nutrient fruits & veggies, flax, chia, quinoa, green tea, ginkgo biloba and antioxidants… ALL IN ONE GLASS!!

Shakeology Has It All!

And don’t forget that you are in charge! You can not only choose your Shakeology flavor (they even have VEGAN!), you can also mix it up everyday with your own add ins. So far I haven’t ventured too far from my standards but I did test out adding greens, I added spinach, to see if the mix covered the flavor. As you may or may not know, spinach is a pretty mild green, but the chocolate completely masked the flavor! Which is great to know if you have picky eaters at home, especially little ones that need the extra nutrition and are hesitant to eat the greens on their plates. This is the perfect way to sneak in extra nutrients in a delicious “dessert”.

Green Chocolate Shakeology Green Chocolate Shakeology

So are you ready to reduce your cravings for processed, nutrient deficient foods and stave off hunger? Shakeology will help satisfy your appetite! Do you want to protect your body from damaging free radicals? The essential Amino Acids found in Shakeology can improve your immunity and assist in reducing inflammation. Could you benefit from a product that can aid in repairing your stressed, worn tissues with the Antioxidants and Phytonutrients? Shakeology can help with that too!

And with all those benefits… wanna know the best part for a crazy saver like me?!

shakeology guarantee

Here is the BeachBody Guarantee, right from the website:

Enjoy healthy nutrition RISK FREE for 30 days with our Bottom-of-the-Bag Guarantee

  • If you don’t feel healthier, more energized, and simply amazing, you won’t pay. You can return Shakeology for any reason and get your money back (less s&h)—even if the bag is empty!
  • To return, simply make a short call to our friendly Customer Service team, rated “A” by the better Business Bureau®.

So on that note… what is there to lose? Other than those extra pounds… I mean if you have them 😉Shakedown on Shakeology

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