My healthy brownie recipe

On the second episode of Barbell at Cocktail Hour Productions I chatted with Nikki Smalls of Flicks and Swizzles Sticks about two really informative and inspiring documentaries about healthy eating.  They were “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and “Forks Over Knives.”  For more about these two documentaries, please check our show at http://cocktailhour.us/.  In the meantime, here’s my healthy brownie recipe that I mentioned during the show.

  1. Sift the following dry ingredients together.
  • 2 cups of buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ to ½ cup of powdered stevia extract depending on your tastes. To find out, do a taste test of the batter to check its sweetness. (You can find stevia at many grocery stores.  I get mine from Trader Joes.)
  1. After you’ve sifted the dry ingredients, add the following to them.
  • 2 cups of papaya puree (I typically use the Caribbean papaya.  It’s larger than the Hawaiin papaya and easier to find in the grocery store.  http://www.melissas.com/Products/Products/Caribbean-Red-Papaya.aspx.  If you can’t find papaya, try mango, applesauce or some other soft fruit that you can puree.)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  1. Mix the batter together and lightly spray a 9X9 baking dish.  Add the batter to the dish and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.

After baking, cut the brownies such that you end up with 16 brownies.  Using http://caloriecount.about.com/, I calculated the total amount in calories of all the ingredients in the recipe to be 1,367.33 calories.  So, if you divide that amount by 16, the total amount of calories in one of my brownies is only approximately 85 calories.

Have a great day and eat healthy, keep moving, manage stress and “own it.”  Cheers.

 

 

Lentil and sweet potato burgers with mint chutney and a side of roasted parsnips.

A friend recently asked how I find the time to cook healthy foods from scratch rather than open up a box of something, add water and be done with it.  The answer is two-fold.  First, time management is key.  I try to stay very organized during the week when I’m juggling work, exercise, writing and spending time with my family.  Second, I keep things very simple.  What I’ve learned about food is that the simpler it is, the lovelier it can be.  For example, the number of ingredients that I cook with is typically 2-5 ingredients not counting spices and things like onion, garlic and ginger.  I rarely add salt to what I’m cooking so I always have really good quality spices, herbs and aromatics on hand.  To show you what I mean, here is my recipe for lentil and sweet potato burgers with a side of roasted parsnips.  Other than the aromatics and spices, there are only three main ingredients.    If you want a green vegetable to go with it, add a side of steamed fresh spinach.

For the lentil burgers:

  • 1.5 cup of cooked lentils (It takes about 20 minutes to cook using dried lentils.)
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato (Peel the sweet potato, prick it with a fork and wrap in wax paper.  Cook in the microwave for 3-4 minutes.)
  • 1 small chopped onion, 1-2 cloves of garlic, 2 tbls of fresh minced ginger (Sauté these aromatics until softened, add in 2 tbls of a good quality curry powder and sauté another 30 seconds)
  • Add the sautéed aromatics, lentils and sweet potato into a food processor and blend together.
  • Spoon a heaping portion of the lentil mixture into a non-stick pan.  Flatten the lentil burgers into more of a patty shape with the back of the spoon and brown on both sides.
  • Serve with homemade mint chutney.  (Combine 1 bunch of mint with 1 bunch of cilantro, 2 tbls fresh minced ginger, 1-2 cloves of garlic and the juice from one lime into the food processor and blend together.  You made need to add a little water if it’s too pasty.)
  • For the roasted parsnips, peel and chop into match sticks.  Use a heavy roasting pan since this will help caramelize and crisp up the parsnips.  Mix with olive oil and a little salt.  Roast at 450 until crispy brown. 

This dinner took about 45 minutes to prepare, including prep time.  It was healthy, satisfying and low in calories.

 

 

Endless Days of Play

I grew up during the 70s and 80s in a small blue-collar Indiana town.  I absolutely loved summer because it meant days of endless play.  School was out and my mother wasn’t interested in having four kids underfoot in a tiny half ranch house.  We’d get up early when my father got ready for work and have our cereal while watching cartoons.  The television was always on in our house.  Cartoons in the morning, my mother’s favorite soap operas during the day and things like Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Dallas in the evening.  Between the cacophonies of the television, my parents battling to be heard over each other and the noise of four kids in a tight space, I couldn’t wait to get outside.

I’d start the day by taking off on my yellow banana seat bicycle.  My first stop was the penny store for whatever candy I could afford with the little bits of change that our father would take out of his work clothes pockets for us the night before.  With the loot from the penny store safely stashed away, I’d ride around enjoying the slight coolness of the summer morning.  Glad to be free of the constraints of being in the house, on a mission, an adventure to anywhere and everywhere.  I’d peddle faster just to see how fast I could go.

Next up would be to stop at our neighbor’s house to see whether Tommy could come out to play.  He was my childhood buddy.  Between Tommy and me, a couple of G.I. Joes and my trustee Ken West, we saved the world on a daily basis.  Ken West was the western version of Barbie’s Ken doll.  He wore a brown plastic cowboy hat, vest, boots and spurs.  He bent at the elbows and knees so that he could ride the horse that came with him.  In order to simulate the mountains that I’d seen on the Western television shows that my father liked to watch, I’d dig enormous holes in the back yard piling the excavated dirt into mountains for Ken to climb.  My mother really disliked that.  As an adult, I can see why.  It didn’t make for a nice lawn having mole holes dug all over your yard by a kid trying to create her own version of the Rocky Mountains in very flat Indiana.  But, when I was a kid, like most kids, in my mind anything was possible if I imagined it. 

Anyhow, why I am blogging about this in the first place?  Well, when I got up this morning and thought about my plan for today, it struck me how similar it is to those sweet days of summer escape as a kid.  This morning, my day started with a quiet run before the world started to stir.  I felt free and ran fast, just to see how fast I could go.  As soon as I finish this blog, I’ll have breakfast.  During breakfast, there will be no sound from the television or voices yelling at each other.  However, there will be a beautiful chorus of different kinds of song birds that have made the meadow their home.  They are now our noisy family and we love them dearly.  If I listen ,I can make out their identities, the Wood Thrush, Chickadee, Phoebe, Mourning Dove, etc.

After breakfast, I’ll spend the day in the meadow.  Instead of digging holes to create mountains, I’ll dig holes to plant another 25 blueberry bushes and 25 hickory nut tree seedlings.  Then I’ll check out what flowers are showing themselves since I last walked the meadow.  I’ll look for wild strawberry in hopes that Mama G has left us some.  I’ll tend to the garden and each lunch in the sun.  I’ll spend time in my head imaging all the places I could go and things that I could do.  I’ll remember that anything is possible.  Have a great day.  Peace.