Chocolate Cake, healthy-ish of course…

Over the last few weeks I tried out a couple recipes for my daughter’s birthday party that was the other day. The first one was good, everyone liked it except my husband, who said it tasted like chocolate covered beans… which is was I suppose…

Black Bean Brownies
1 1/2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed very well
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey
2 stevia packs or 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup chocolate chips
optional: more chips, for presentation
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.) Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut.
This amazing recipe is from one of my new favorite hot spots for vegan desserts: Chocolate Covered Katie

This second recipe was great! But not vegan, and so close to tasting like actual cake that perhaps it was too spot on. The recipe was so complex that the kitchen was a disaster afterward, everything was messy including the blender, the food processer, a sauce pan, measuring cups, two mixing bowls, and the baking pan! On top of that the cake was soooo tasty that we all had an extra piece each, and I gained nearly two pounds from it!

Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cup packed almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1 1/2 cup packed pitted dates
1/2 cup water
3 eggs
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Mix together all dry ingredients (almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) in a bowl and set aside.
3. Place the dates and water in a food processor or strong blender and blend until it forms a smooth paste.
4. Mix the date paste with the wet ingredients (eggs, coconut oil, vanilla), and mix until smooth.
5. Add the wet to the dry and stir until smooth.
6. Grease an 8″ round cake pan, and pour in batter.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before serving so that it has time to set.
-Make your own almond meal by processing raw almonds until no large chunks remain. Don’t over process because it will turn into almond butter.
-You may soak the dates for a few hours or overnight to make them softer and easier to blend.
-You can melt the coconut oil by putting it into your preheating oven, that saves getting an extra sauce pan messy.
I found the original recipe here: Spoonful of Sugarfree
(The frosting was basic buttercream using vegan butter and almond milk.)

Tomorrow I’ll post what cake we actually ended up doing for Meg’s Birthday Party :)

Wheat-free Menu: Week Three

Before reading this post, read my post: Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis
And this post: Wheat-free Menu Week One & Two

I thought I had enough recipes, but I guess I didn’t realize how much I was still relying on wheat, and it’s so hard to find recipes! If I find a gluten free recipe, it has dairy. If I find a gluten free and dairy free recipe, it has meat. If I find a gluten free, dairy free, meat free recipe, then the food is packed full of tofu and other soy products. All I’m looking for are plant based and whole food recipes! I feel like they should be there, the internet has never ever failed me before! Suddenly when I changed my search parameters, I was finding good stuff! I changed the search from dairy free wheat free whole foods recipes to gluten free vegan recipes -tofu
These are the few gluten free vegan sites I’ve found that don’t rely too heavily on soy products, and I’m enjoying perusing these sites for ideas and recipes:
Clean Eating Chelsey http://cleaneatingchelsey.com/recipes/
Allyson Kramer’s http://www.allysonkramer.com/
Almost Raw Vegan http://almostrawvegan.com/category/recipes-2/
Forks Over Knives http://www.forksoverknives.com/category/recipes/
Naturally Ella http://naturallyella.com/special-diets/

These are too complex for everyday cooking, but they are giving me great ideas for holidays and other special occasions:
Oh She Glows http://ohsheglows.com/categories/recipes-2/food-allergies/gluten-free/
Quirky Cooking http://quirkycooking.blogspot.com/search/label/vegan

So, our wheat free experiment lasted three weeks. The girls’ school threw us a curve ball, and as a family we all had a very stressful week. Wheat has always been my go-to food in stressful times, and with the school situation out of hand I snapped, and we had a Family Pizza Night. Gluten free experiment is over for now.

The first couple of weeks I was not interested in losing weight, using small amounts of chocolate, and fries, to get through what I knew would be inevitable cravings. The third week, back on a normal menu plan, I lost four pounds in a week, but was that due to being on a low-fat plant based diet while cutting out the last bits of occasional sugar/fat? Or from cutting out wheat? Both? I just don’t know. I may try again, or I may just stop trying to force the issue, and let wheat fade away over the course of a year like I did for meat. Only time will tell.

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Both week one and two I was using the potato heavy menu that I created for the occasion. This third week I put together a regular menu, which you can download here:

Daily Meal Plan with Recipes: 20130906 – Meal Plans – with recipes

Matching meal plans with shopping lists for family of four: Meal Plans-Lists
(Note the three tabs in the excel file, one is a blank shopping list, one is a tally shopping list of what is needed for the week, with the summary of the week’s meals, I cut it off the top and put it on the fridge.)