Black Bean Brownies

One of my housemates has become a dear friend, and has also taught me so much by her example — I so admire her patience, generosity, thoughtfulness, and ability to take all of life’s challenges, setbacks, and disappointments in stride. Not to mention her finesse and innovation in the kitchen. It was an honor to make her a special birthday breakfast and treat today. At her request, I made another batch of baked apple oatmeal, and then followed the recipe she passed along for these black bean brownies. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical as I spread the batter, and when they first came out of the oven, but by the time it came time to serve them, everyone raved over the taste and texture, and that you couldn’t tell they had black beans at all. Turns out, her sister has a whole cookbook of whole-food, grain and dairy free recipes like this, coming out very soon — I’ve already pre-ordered a copy, and am excited to try out more of her recipes soon. If you like the sounds of this recipe, be sure to check out The Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy Free Family Cookbook: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Whole Foods on a Restrictive Diet, by Leah Webb. (And no, I did not receive any request or compensation for this recommendation.) In the meantime, enjoy!

Black Bean Brownies

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans

2-4 tablespoons cocoa powder (I think I used 3)

1/2 cups oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup maple or agave syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil (butter or another oil also works if, like me, you don’t have any)

2 teaspoons vanilla (I didn’t have any, and they still turned out great)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine everything except chocolate chips in the food processor and blend until completely smooth. Stir chocolate chips and spread batter evenly in a greased 8″ square baking pan. Sprinkle some more chocolate chips on the top if you want — I did this, and then spread them along the top with a spatula while they were still soft and oozy, fresh out of the oven, after baking for 15-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Can be made a day ahead… in fact, they are arguably even better the next day!

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“Overnight” Baked French Toast

Love when I can take something on the verge of being tossed, and transform it into something delicious! Maybe a month ago, I had to cut off half of a loaf of bread that had grown mold. Taking a cue from a friend, I cut the remainder of the loaf into cubes to make croutons for salad or soup, and stuck them into the freezer until I had the chance to use them. Then, searching for creative breakfast options, I cam across an intriguing recipe for an easy baked variation on French Toast. (I believe it was this one, from Sweet Peas and Saffron, which I’d still like to try sometime, though I ended up referring to a simpler recipe from Taste of Home when I finally got around to making it.)

Was a bit of a scramble to get it baked in time for breakfast, but it was worth getting up a bit earlier for a special treat! I turned up the heat up to 375°F to speed up the process a little, which seemed to shave off 5 or 10 minutes. Definitely a hit, topped with sliced banana and a light drizzle of maple syrup.

UPDATE (2/15/19): We are up to our chin in bread, and out of bags to freeze it! Perfect excuse to make this again, this time with frozen sliced apples from our orchard lining the bottom! The full loaf of bread turned out to be too much to fit in one pan, just barely fit it divided between a 9×11″ and a pie pan, with another four eggs and 1 1/2 cup of milk poured over them. Was a hit for all three meals we served it! (Leftovers reheat easily in the oven, pouring in just a bit of extra milk can help keep it from drying out.)

“Overnight” Baked French Toast
1 loaf of bread, cut into cubes
8 eggs
3 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Spread bread cubes in a greased 9×11″ glass baking dish. Whisk together remaining ingredients, pour over bread, cover, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Bring back out about half an hour before baking, and dot with a tablespoon or so of butter. Preheat oven to 350F (or 375 if you are crunched for time), cover and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until knife comes out clean. Cut into slices and enjoy, topped with fresh fruit, syrup, yogurt, or whatever you fancy. Simple as that!

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Oatmeal Innovations

While our household has been enjoying more variety in our morning breakfast, I have remained quite content with my daily bowl of oatmeal. Perhaps this is because it is an inviting canvas for almost endless variations — especially if, like me, your whims often lean towards savory. Here are some of my favorite combinations (always soaked overnight with a 1-3 ratio of oats to water, with a bit of whey or yogurt, and a little salt and butter stirred in before serving):

  • Caraway seed with black pepper or cayenne (walnuts or a bit of peanut butter make a great addition, as does water reserved from cooking beets)
  • Chili powder or cumin and cinnamon
  • Curry powder, shredded coconut, and a little cinnamon, ginger, and/or cardamon
  • Coriander, nutmeg, and black pepper
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and orange zest
  • Turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and basil (cooking water from beets make this absolutely magnificent, sunflower seeds are also a nice addition)
  • “Scarborough fair”: Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Or thyme and oregano, or pretty much any fresh herbs. Black pepper and walnuts make it even better.
  • Dill and black pepper, with a little yogurt stirred in right before serving
  • A spoonful of pesto or your favorite ferment, or leftover sauteed veggies (rotkohl was amazing!)
  • Wasabi, fresh grated ginger, tamari, and sesame seeds. For this, I often use a splash of rice or apple vinegar instead of whey, and stir in a little sesame oil in the morning instead of butter
  • Fennel or anise seeds
  • Lemon zest, black pepper, and herb salt

And countless more I have tried… just raid your spice rack!

My all time favorite, however, remains the holy trinity of oats + salt + a spoonful of tahini!

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