No-Bake Chocolate Protein Brownies

I’ve been on the Black Bean Brownie kick for a couple of years. I have a major sweet tooth but once I started focusing on cooking and eating for health and nutrition as well as taste, I’ve been phasing out a lot of traditional sweets. The one recipe I keep and continue to make is my Grammy’s Pumpkin Bread…I’ve modified it here and there and it still tastes great, but the original is the best.

I digress…

When I want brownies but I don’t want to have a crazy sugar rush afterward, I go the black bean route. The first ones I tried were the Chocolate Covered Katie Black Bean Brownies. I even made them for a baking contest at work. They’re delicious, fudge-y, and chocolatey. Everything you could want in a brownie, minus the feeling of eating a bowl full of sugar.

It’s no secret I love making treats with Orgain.  I’ve made protein shakes (obviously), overnight oats, cheesecake, cookies, and more with this awesome, simple, vegan protein powder. So of course I decided it was time to take the Orgain to the black bean brownies and devise the ultimate protein-bar brownie. Still chocolatey and fudge-y, a bit lighter than the original black bean brownies (no chocolate chips, no cocoa powder), and you don’t even have to wait for them to bake.

Success!

As usual, I don’t measure too carefully. I tend to eyeball most of my recipes, so feel free to modify the amounts to suit your tastes. Love peanut butter and no so keen on maple syrup? Great – add more PB and dial down the maple syrup (you may need to add more almond milk) – you get the idea.

Also: be careful with your food processor/blender. I think I actually killed our Ninja last night. I’ve had my eye on a Vitamix for a while and my birthday is coming up…anybody want to donate to the domestic cause? You will after you try these!

No-Bake Chocolate Protein Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed well
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • dash of baking soda
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 rounded cup rolled oats
  • 3 scoops chocolate protein powder (I used Orgain)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk, as needed

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and process until very smooth. You may need to add more almond milk as the mixture comes together. It should stick to itself but not be runny (if it's too runny, add more oats or protein powder).
  2. Pour into an 8x8 or 7x9 baking pan and press down.
  3. Refrigerate until firm and cut into squares.

Vegan Apple Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

I went a little overboard at the apple orchard this fall. I also went a little overboard with canned pumpkin. Every time Travis or I needed groceries, I put a can of pumpkin on the list. Since we rarely had the chance to shop together during the fall, we ended up picking up a can – each – every trip. Last weekend we were tidying up our pantry and realized I managed to collect almost ten cans of pumpkin. I’d used maybe two cans since September. Whoops.

Luckily, I LOVE baking with pumpkin. We even tried an experiment this fall during which we roasted and ate our carving pumpkins because we were traveling on Halloween and didn’t get to carve them. Even that made a delicious dinner, though I prefer to bake pumpkin into muffins, pancakes, and the like. Once I discovered all the cans in our pantry, I had to do something about it – and I could be liberal with my choices! First order of business: using up the very last of the apples we got from our winter CSA. I’d made some Apple Cinnamon muffins earlier in the season that were tasty but I didn’t pick up any greek yogurt this week when we got groceries. I knew pumpkin was a pretty great substitute for fats whilst baking, and so was applesauce, so I modified that recipe a bit to create these. Enjoy!

Vegan Apple Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed with 3 tablespoons water (to create a flax egg)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 3 apples, any variety, grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease 12 muffin cups with coconut oil.
  2. Whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, almond milk, maple syrup, flax egg, vanilla, and melted coconut oil. You may need to work quickly here as the coconut oil may harden. If this happens, you can microwave in short bursts just to get it liquid again.
  4. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients. Add the grated apple and stir until combined.
  5. Scoop into prepared muffin cups and bake about 20 minutes or until set (I don't use a toothpick, but I poke the tops to make sure they're firm).

Food memories

Another mini mobile post, this time about food.

Every time I travel I try to find a new food to enjoy…or at least sample. This way, months or years and thousands of miles later, I can bring myself right back to a travel memory.

I haven’t made arepas for a while, but arepas with eggs, tomatoes, and onions served with a cup of hot chocolate remind me of Colombia.

Shakshuka brings me back to the shores of the Dead Sea, cooking over a camping stove with my friends.

Most recently, fresh tropical fruit is totally Hawaiian but difficult to find on the east coast. Instead, my gastronomic reminder is a bowl of Bakery on Main maple cranberry nut granola. The host at our Air B&B had a bag waiting for us in the hut and we devoured it like we hadn’t eaten in days. This morning – a humid, misty, gray morning of around 60* – I had a bowl and remembered the misty gray mornings in the open-air hut.

What reminds you of your adventures?

Pumpkin Apple French Toast Bake

As my previous post stated, I went way overboard at the apple orchard this fall and have a few apple recipes to share! Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of this one either…because we devoured it so quickly!!

I’d made a Pumpkin French Toast bake a couple years back that I wasn’t too fond of. I love pumpkin pancakes, but somehow, the pumpkin flavor didn’t permeate the bread, and I’d been left with soggy bread atop a layer of eggy pumpkin. Not the best breakfast I’d ever had!

However, this fall, with the abundance of apples we’d picked. I was determined to find a pumpkin apple French toast bake that worked. I wanted us to be able to enjoy a warm, spiced, fancy-feeling breakfast on busy weekday mornings. I did some research and came up with the below recipe, thanks in large part to the Baked Apple French Toast from Minimalist Baker!

Pumpkin Apple French Toast Bake

Ingredients

  • 10-12 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into about 1" cubes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 6-8 slices sandwich-sized whole wheat bread (NOTE: I used a round rustic Pumpkin Seed Multigrain loaf from Trader Joe's, and I used about half the loaf. The pumpkin seeds in the bread lend a nice crunch to the final product!)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 additional teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Stir apple slices with maple syrup and cinnamon, and pour into a glass baking pan.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes, turning occasionally to make sure they don't roast too long and turn to applesauce/mush.
  4. While apples are roasting, tear bread into 1" cubes and set aside.
  5. Whisk eggs, almond milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.
  6. Place bread cubes into the egg mixture and stir, pressing down to ensure bread soaks up the liquid.
  7. When apples are done cooking, remove from oven.
  8. Spread bread cubes evenly over the top of the apples.
  9. Set oven to 375*.
  10. Bake on center rack for about an hour, or until edges are crispy and center is no longer wet.