Vegetables… In My Brownies?!

Uh oh, it’s April 1. We all know what that means… April Fool’s Day!
What if I told you that this indeed is no joke. These brownies really are made of veggies!

YES, HEALTHY BROWNIES DO EXIST!

Trick all of your friends, coworkers, and family members with the tastiest, healthiest April Fool’s prank yet! They will have no idea that these rich chocolate brownies are made of vegetables! Not to mention; vegan, gluten free, and contain no refined sugar, butter, oil, or salt! Take that Paula Dean.

Just make sure that no one is allergic to the secret superstar ingredients first… because that would not be fun!

I love Chef AJ’s original Black Bean Brownie recipe, but I didn’t have barley flour or date syrup on hand, so I did some trial and error with flours, making my own date paste/syrup, and added spinach! I made 2 different batches to ensure they were perfect before posting, and I found that almond meal/flour tasted the best and gave the greatest consistency. I wanted to give whole-wheat flour and try, but it came out like rubber! As I was experimenting, I found that blending the ingredients in a particular order made the process much more efficient.

Remember, even though these are made from whole healthy ingredients, that they are still treats and should be enjoyed in moderation. But go ahead, lick the batter straight from the bowl, there are no eggs!

Black Bean & Spinach Brownies
Recipe adapted from Chef AJ
Makes 9 servings

15oz, can no salt added black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cups fresh spinach
12 medjool dates (pitted)
1 cup water
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond flour
Optional 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips or vegan carob chips – as a topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a high-powered blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix!) combine the dates and water, blending until thick smooth paste is formed. Add the fresh spinach to the paste and mix until smooth. Next, add the beans and vanilla extract and blend. Finally, add the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and almond flour. Blend until batter is mixed evenly. Scrape the sides of the blender or food processor as needed, as the batter will become very thick. Once batter is smooth, pour into an 8 x 8 cooking pan, lightly coated with olive oil spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Optional: when brownies have finished baking, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and let them melt in the oven for 1 additional minute. Remove brownies from the oven and spread melted chocolate chips evenly with a spatula.

Note: I checked the brownies after 35 minutes and they were still raw in the middle, so I kept cooking them in 10 minute increments, checking with a toothpick each time. The brownies took around 50 minutes to completely cook.

Side Note: I have not tried using deglet noor dates (the smaller, lighter dates) but if you use them in place of medjool, I suggest doubling the quantity to 22 since they are half the size.

Maple Quinoa Cereal

Have you ever had a bowl of store-bought cereal in the morning and heard your stomach growl an hour later? That is because your cereal is probably low in protein, fiber, and overall nutrition. Most breakfast cereals are high in simple carbohydrates, fats, and loaded with added sugar. Even if you look at the nutrition label of a “healthy” cereal, you may be surprised to find that there is nothing healthy about it.

The complex super grain quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is considered a complete protein, which is an outstanding source of essential amino acids. The fiber and slow-releasing carbs in quinoa will keep your stomach feeling feel, and your blood sugar stable so you won’t get that usual after cereal crash. Chia seeds add a dose of omega-3 and are loaded with both soluble and insoluble fiber.


Maple Quinoa Cereal
Makes 3 servings (1/2 cup each)

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix together. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (do not use wax paper. Trust me, I tried it and it failed!) and pour the batter onto the paper. Flatten smooth with a spatula until batter is a thin sheet (about ¼ inch thick). Bake for 25 minutes, flip (it’s ok if the sheet of quinoa breaks into smaller pieces at this time), and bake for 25 more minutes (about 50 total) to ensure that both sides are baked evenly. Remove from oven when cereal is slightly golden brown. Allow cereal to cool, and then break into small cereal sized flakes. Enjoy with almond milk and fresh berries or fruit!

Lemon Garlic Couscous

Since I am usually cooking for myself, sometimes I like to make my meals as a single serving. This ensures that I will eat the perfect serving size and will not be tempted to go back for seconds. Most cookbooks contain recipes that have many servings, and sometimes it can be overwhelming to purchase and make such large amounts of food. I like to offer single serving recipes to my readers who like me are only cooking for themselves and do not have families to feed. Of course, all recipes could easily be doubled to make more servings as you wish.

Lemon Garlic Couscous (vegetarian/vegan)
serves 1

1/2 cup cooked whole-wheat pearl couscous
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 cup asparagus (about 8 stems)
1 cup broccoli
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 clove garlic

Cook couscous to package directions. Chop broccoli and asparagus into 1 inch sections. Place vegetables in a microwave safe bowl, cover, and let them steam in the microwave for roughly 2 minutes.
In a blender (I used my magic bullet) combine garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Blend until Smooth.
In a separate bowl, combine couscous, chickpeas and vegetables. Add the dressing to the bowl and mix until couscous, chickpeas, and veggies are evenly coated.

The Rabbit Food Pyramid Breakdown
Produce: asparagus and broccoli
Whole Grain: whole-weat couscous
Protein: chickpeas
Plant Based Fat: olive oil

Snack Attack

AHHH snack attack! We all get them. I can eat clean all day, but once nighttime comes around, I get the craziest cravings for sweets and junk food. Cravings will usually pass within 15 minutes if your body is not truly hungry.

Try going for a walk around the block to distract yourself from thinking about food and try drinking a glass of water to determine if you are just thirsty. If 15 minutes go by and you are still craving something to snack on, I have some tricks for you!

Kick those cravings in the hiney with these simple treats that will satisfy without derailing your day of healthy eating!

Frozen Fruit: I like to buy bags of frozen fruit from Trader Joe’s and keep them in my freezer. Fruit is great for a sweet tooth, but frozen fruit is even better because it will slow down the rate at which it is consumed so you become fuller faster. My favorite fruit to freeze are green grapes. These bite-sized sweet snacks are an awesome alternative when you are craving candy or sugar. Frozen grapes take longer to eat since they are cold, which will help you to eat less compared to grapes at a normal temperature.
Tip: wash and dry grapes and remove them from the vine before freezing.

Shelled Pistachios: When I want something salty I will eat a small serving of shelled pistachios. De-shelling each nut takes more time and effort than grabbing a handful of unshelled nuts, which will make you more aware of how many you are eating.

La Croix: If you ever crave soda, this is a great alternative for you. I love this pure sparkling water because it is flavorful and bubbly and does not contain any added sugars, artificial flavors, or chemicals that other popular soft drinks have. It only contains carbonated water and natural flavors. Lemon is my favorite! La Croix can be purchased at Whole Foods and most Target locations.

Swiss Miss Diet Hot Chocolate: If you ever crave chocolate, this is the answer to your prayers! For only 25 calories and 2g of sugar, you can have your chocolate without throwing off your day of healthy eating! Works like a charm.

As with any snack, don’t forget to measure out a serving and watch your portion size to prevent eating too much of a good thing!

Question: What do you do when you get a late night snack attack?

Portion Control

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom
Portion Control

Yesterday, I received an email from a reader who had questions about how to count calories when eating clean. I no longer count calories, but still measure out proper portions and serving sizes to achieve a balanced meal. After thinking about how important this little step is, I was inspired to write and define what portions I use for each food group. Measuring foods may seem time consuming, but you won’t mind once the measurement of your waistline starts to shrink!

Portion size is crucial when it comes to losing and maintaining weight. It is important to remember that even healthy foods need to be eaten in moderation. Nibbling on a healthy mix of nuts can quickly turn into a calorie bomb loaded with fat.

When I first started paying attention to nutrition labels, I was surprised to see what an actual serving looked like. For example, checkout the serving size on your favorite cereal and measure it out. Shockingly different than the usual amount that you eat? You’re not alone! It is so easy to overdo it if you are unaware of what a proper serving looks like. I’m a very visual learner, so I complied a list of objects that give a visual of measurements, which is especially helpful when eating out.

1 cup= baseball
½ cup = yoyo
2/3 cup= tennis ball
¼ cup= egg
3oz= deck of cards
1 Tbs = poker chip
1 tsp = quarter

Here is an idea of what one serving from each food group equals in the Rabbit Food world:

PRODUCE:
Veggies: (lunch & dinner)
2 cups fresh
1 cup frozen
½ cup canned
¼ dried

Fruit: (breakfast and snack)
1 piece, about the size of a baseball
1 cup fresh or frozen
½ cup canned (no sugar added)
¼ cup dried (unsweetened)

WHOLE GRAINS:
1 slice of whole grain bread
½ whole grain English muffin or whole-grain pita
½ cup cooked brown or wild rice, whole-grain pasta, or quinoa
¼ cup uncooked oats
2 taco sized whole-corn tortillas

PROTEIN:
1 cup skim milk
6oz plain nonfat Greek yogurt
½ cup nonfat cottage cheese
¼ cup nonfat ricotta cheese
1 slice reduced fat cheese
¼ cup reduced fat shredded cheese
¼ cup of egg whites
3oz chicken, turkey, or fish
½ cup cooked beans or lentils
¼  package of tofu or tempeh

PLANT BASED FAT:
1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp nuts
1 Tbsp nut butter
10 olives
¼ medium avocado
¼ cup 70% dark chocolate chips

Challenge: Pour a bowl of cereal as you normally would without measuring, as if you were going to eat it for breakfast. Then pour the contents of your bowl into a measuring cup and compare your bowl of cereal to the serving size on the back of the box. The first time I did this was a huge eye opener for me. My bowl consisted of 3 times the serving size listed on the nutrition label!

1 68 69 70 71 72