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Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies {vegan, gluten free, low fat, dye-free}

21 Apr

Over the years, I’ve dabbled with a variety of new-to-me foods: vegetables, fruits, grains, superfoods, and preparations. I’ve learned to love all the beans, figured out the best way to make tofu so it tastes good, and even started putting any manner of frozen vegetable in my healthy smoothies. Inspiring, right?

Except when it comes to beets.

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies |

I’ve tried them pickled, diced, sliced, hot, cold, with feta, without feta, and as juice. And I just cannot.

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies |

Seriously, they taste like dirt. Not in the way that vegetables fresh from the garden might have specks of dirt left on them after washing. No, beets legitimately taste like licking a playground.

However, I’m not one to give up! I don’t know what was going through my head on the day when I saw prepared beet juice in the store. Maybe it was the display, maybe I had just read an article about how beets can prevent death from a variety of causes, maybe I was just a tad crazy. But I bought it! And promptly put it in my fridge door, where it sat for a solid two months (thankfully it was a shelf-stable variety).

I remember reading that beet juice is particularly beneficial after hard workouts, so in my post-race delusion, I finally popped open that lonely bottle and poured myself a glass.

And it was AWFUL. I chugged it down, just to get it over with. Then, I immediately began recipe planning.

You see, I dislike wasting perfectly good food. My thought was that while beet juice might taste like pureed dirt when on its own, it might actually be ok in baked goods. Ridiculous, right?

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies |

No. Not ridiculous at all. Beet juice adds a moisture that water and milk (dairy or otherwise) can’t hold a candle to. I’ve heard of bakers using beet powder as a replacement for red food dye, particularly in red velvet desserts. And I had some leftover crock pot black beans in the freezer, waiting to be used.

Pair all of this with the Recipe Redux challenge this month, which asked us to develop a recipe that reduces food waste, in honor of Earth day.

Naturally, I thought of brownies! I know, that doesn’t seem totally natural. But have you ever had black bean brownies? Have you had red velvet cake? Do you see where I’m going here…

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies |

These brownies taste NOTHING LIKE black beans or beets!

They simply taste and look like a delightfully red brownie that’s chewy, sweet and full of chocolate flavor. And it just so happens that the chocolate comes from chocolate protein powder. So these are an absolutely viable breakfast option! No joke, one brownie has 3 grams protein and 2 grams fiber. They’re gluten free, vegan, low fat, and contain no dye whatsoever!

These were so good that Chris couldn’t identify any “strange” ingredients. I’ll call that a win.

For the record, since I opened this bottle and made these brownies, I have since found additional ways to consume beet juice without actually tasting it. My smoothie-matching series on Instagram might give it away – I love beet juice smoothies now!

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies |

Red Velvet Black Bean & Beet Protein Brownies, partially adapted from Vegan Richa

Makes 20 brownies

  • 3/4 C ground oats (measure after you grind them)
  • 1/2 C almond flour
  • 2 tbsp  cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 scant tsp salt
  • 3/4 C coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/3 C vegan chocolate protein powder
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1/2 C prepared beet juice
  • 3/4 C cooked black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C nondairy milk
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8″ baking dish with parchment paper, so the sides fold over the edges.

In a medium bowl, mix together the oat flour through the flaxseed meal.

In the jug of your blender, combine the beet juice, beans, vanilla, and milk. Puree until completely blended. You don’t want to be able to see that there are black beans in it.

Pour the beet-bean puree into the dry ingredients, along with the melted coconut oil.

Stir with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated. The batter will be thick – thicker than most brownie batters.

Scoop the batter into the prepared dish and press down into an even layer using your hands.

Bake at 350 for 25-27 minutes.

Remove and let cool completely before slicing into squares of your desired size. I cut mine into 20 brownies.

One more meme for good measure, courtesy of The Office:

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies |


Is it Time to Eat? Guest Post + Roasted Tofu with Roasted Vegetable Puree

20 Apr

Picture this: it’s 10 PM and you’re so hungry that your growling stomach is sure to keep you from falling asleep. So you grab some chocolate, or a handful of trail mix, or pretzels. Sound familiar?

But is 10 PM really the right time of day to eat? Most would argue it’s not wise. But do you understand the science behind it?

Today’s guest, Kevin Jones, shares how to determine when you should be eating. The recipe that follows is a great example of what you should be eating – a healthy, high-protein, dairy & gluten free dinner that’s perfect following a workout or simply a busy day at work!

Is it Time to Eat? Guest Post + Roasted Tofu with Roasted Vegetable Puree |

Breaking Down the Details on the Best Times of the Day to Eat

About The Guest Author: Kevin Jones writes for a number of sites across the web, sharing his wisdom and expertise in the health and fitness industry. He has written extensively for NordicTrack and ProForm, offering out-of-the-box workout plans and nutritional advice. During his free time, he likes to be very active with his wife and two children, hitting the slopes of Park City, Utah or chasing down Salt Lake City’s Korean food trucks. Connect with him online; LinkedInTwitter.

My grandmother – a very opinionated woman – has always been very vocal about the way you should eat, and when. Her philosophy, passed to me in my formative years, was that you eat heavy in the morning, heavier in the afternoon, and light in the evening. “And none of that silly no-fat nonsense…give me my butter, or lose a hand!”

For a long time I ignored these lessons, eating with the gusto and carefree nature of youth. Now that I am older, and I have to think of weight gain, heart health, and indigestion, I have started wondering if she was right.

We all know that healthy food is good food. But what are the best times to eat it?

Is it Time to Eat? Guest Post + Roasted Tofu with Roasted Vegetable Puree |

Erratic Diets and The Harm They Do

Eating irregularly is bad for you. That might seem like a drastic statement, but it has been shown to be true again and again. A study by Harvard University found that just a few days of eating on an opposing schedule could cause serious sugar and insulin spikes where none had been present before.

Another study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that nighttime eating could cause an increase in weight gain. Still another found that late eating impacted circadian rhythms and disrupted sleep patterns.

So, to recap, eating late at night, or just in a way that is different than your usual pattern of meals, can screw with your blood sugar levels, your sleep, and even make you fat. That seems like a pretty serious thing to me.

Eating Post Workout

Another factor to keep in mind is when working out. Exercise taxes the body, eats up all the food-provided energy in the system, and puts strain and tears within muscles that need to be repaired. Protein rich snacks or meals following intense activity are crucial for the body to function properly.

But did you know dehydration may keep you from getting the nutrients you need? Long distance runners are familiar with runner’s trots. But anyone can experience diarrhea following a workout, often sparked by improper hydration.

Is it Time to Eat? Guest Post + Roasted Tofu with Roasted Vegetable Puree |

What All This Tells Us

We can make a couple of assumptions about diet based on the above facts. First, eating late at night is a no-no. Second, proper hydration is crucial for proper nutrient retention. Third, our bodies are delicate tools that have to be properly balanced.

Eat well, eat often, and don’t eat too late. Oh, and keep drinking water. While the eight glasses a day rhetoric may be a myth, the need for keeping ourselves nice and hydrated is not.

Is it Time to Eat? Guest Post + Roasted Tofu with Roasted Vegetable Puree |

With that in mind, here’s a protein rich meal that’s great for dinner! Tofu’s texture is not for everyone, but when pressed and roasted, it’s much more palatable! Pair this with a simple puree of roasted vegetables, and you’ve got dinner in the bag. Enjoy!

Roasted Tofu with Roasted Vegetable Puree

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 block firm tofu, drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper – to roast
  • 1/2 C vegetable stock, warmed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Roasted pepitas, to garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil and spray with oil.

Wrap the drained tofu block in a clean tea towel and place a heavy object on top of it, like a heavy pan or book. Let this sit while you prep the veggies.

Chop all the veggies – neatness doesn’t count in this recipe! Lay them out on one of the baking sheets with the garlic and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Stir a bit and make sure the veggies are in a single layer. Roast at 400 for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Slice the pressed tofu into long, thin strips. Place in a single layer on the second baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, until dry and crispy. It’s best to put the tofu in the oven 10 minutes after the vegetables have been in.

Once the vegetables are roasted, transfer them to a blender, along with the warmed vegetable stock, seasonings, and vinegar. Puree until smooth, taking care to let steam escape from the lid by removing the middle piece and holding a towel loosely over the top. Taste and adjust as desired.

Pour the vegetable puree into four bowls. Top with the roasted tofu strips and garnish with roasted pepitas. Enjoy hot!

34 Post-Race Recipes and “First Call” Half Marathon Recap

10 Apr

Yesterday, I ran my fourth half marathon! It was a completely gorgeous day – mid-60s and sunny.

34 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |

Unfortunately, despite following a solid training plan, my time was rather terrible. My feet started hurting in the 6th mile, my left leg began to hurt in the 10th mile, and I was battling some pretty awful negative inner voices. But, I did it – I finished upright, on my own, and with a smile on my face. My parents and Chris wished me luck at the start, and they brought my grandparents along to see me cross the finish line! Their support has again been incredible ❤

34 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |


34 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |

Run Long & Prosper 🙂


34 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |

Glad my parents could see me start and finish!

34 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |

This was the first race that Oma and Opa could come to see me finish – it was so lovely to see them at the end ❤

After a post-race beer and peanut butter bar was devoured, Chris took my friend and I out for lunch at a nearby burger joint (yay for veggie burgers!). We then came home so I could shower and relax.

34 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |


34 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |


Cue the unquenchable hunger. 13.1 miles is quite a distance, and it does a number on the body.

Aside from a cold glass of much-deserved beer, and a delightfully refreshing banana, post-race nutrition can be a tough thing to tackle. Do you gorge on all the unhealthy foods you want? Do you keep it conservative and make a simple eggs & potato dish? Do you whip out all the protein powders and healthy ingredients that are in your pantry? For every one of my longer races, we have gone out for brunch/lunch upon crossing the finish line. I usually order whatever egg dish is on the menu because I’m craving salt and protein, and nothing sweet. Yesterday’s burger did have a fried egg on it 🙂

But the rest of the day? Now that’s totally up in the air. Rather than simply grazing through your fridge and pantry (that can end up to be a total stomach ache!), it’s important to have foods ready to eat, or items that your significant other/best friend/parents can make for you as you sit and recover with all the compression gear you own.

Post-race recovery is super important. It helps your muscles get back on track, satisfies your stomach, and aids in a faster turnaround time so you’re not tempted to spend a week away from running – or moving, for that matter. Sure, a few days off the road after a long race is a good idea, but any more than that and you’ll risk losing the desire to run and muscle memory of doing so.

33 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |

Of course, fresh produce is always a wise choice. An apple with nut butter makes a great snack, as does a piece of whole grain toast with butter and scrambled eggs. But if you want something more substantial, creative, and delicious, you’ll love this roundup of 34 post-race recipes! There’s everything from no-bake bars, healthy baked goods, bliss balls and smoothies, to savory meals and snacks that will help you recover throughout the day, and even week, following a big race.

Balls, Bars & Baked Goods

33 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |

Apple Cornmeal Protein Muffins, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins, from Suzlyfe

Coconut Chocolate Chip Quinoa Bars, from Healthy Helper

Espresso Hemp Protein Bites, from The Fit Cookie

Gluten-free Oat Bites, from The Fit Cookie

No-bake Chocolate Chip Oat Bars, from The Fit Cookie

Peanut Butter Blondie Brownies, from Healthy Helper

Rainbow Bliss Balls, from Casey the College Celiac

Tropical Protein Baked Oatmeal, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, from Healthy Helper

Zucchini Bread Protein Loaves, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Smoothies & Bowls

33 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |

Banana Ice Cream Parfait and Zucchini Bread Ice Cream, from Casey the College Celiac

Blackberry Walnut Protein Smoothie, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Cherry Limeade Recovery Smoothie, from Suzlyfe

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Black Bean Smoothie, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Creamy Blueberry Orange Smoothie, from The Fit Cookie

Honey Roasted Rhubarb Smoothie, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Orange Creamsicle Avocado Protein Smoothie, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Orange Turmeric Smoothie, from Marathons & Motivations

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Strawberries & Cream Breakfast Quinoa, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Sweet & Spicy Triple Berry Smoothie Bowl, from Marathons & Motivations

Trifecta of Smoothies, from Ilka’s Blog

Wild Blueberry Avocado Protein Smoothie, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!


33 Post-Race Recipes and "First Call" Half Marathon Recap |

Avocado Egg Salad, from Confessions of a Mother Runner

Chilled Southwestern Sweet Potato Bowl, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Curried Oatmeal with Scrambled Eggs, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Fajita Frittata, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Oil-free Sriracha Roasted Walnuts, from Healthy Helper

Vegan Portuguese Kale & Soy Chorizo Soup, from Suzlyfe

Vegan Pork n’ Bean Mac & Cheese, from Healthy Helper

Vegan Quinoa Black Bean Salad, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Vegetable & Egg Pita Pizzas, from Eat, Drink, Be Healthy!

Mool {Vegan Beer Baked Beans} and Hasperat {Spicy Pepper Vegan Pinwheels} – Another “Star Trek: First Contact” Party!

6 Apr

Yesterday, we celebrated another First Contact Day! Yep, it’s that time of year again, when we observe the future meeting between humans and the alien race from Vulcan. April 5, 2063 draws ever closer, which of course required another party. Check out this post if you have no idea what I’m talking about – it’s a Star Trek thing 🙂

Chris did a fabulous job setting the apartment to Red Alert; the Tribbles were multiplying out of control; Trek trivia was being thrown about throughout the night; food and drink were enjoyed by all.

We began by watching the two-part The Next Generation two-episode story “All Good Things,” which was a nice way to kick off what was to come of encounters with the Borg. Spoiler: Resistance is Futile!

Mool {Vegan Beer Baked Beans} and Hasperat {Spicy Pepper Vegan Pinwheels} - Another "Star Trek: First Contact" Party! |

Picard becomes a Borg and green shots reverse our polarity.

After settling into our seats on the Bridge, we turned on the movie Star Trek: First Contact. Collectively (no, not the Borg Collective), I think we had the movie memorized by now! This was, after all, our 4th annual First Contact Day party.

Aside from actually buying a replicator to make food for the party, we did an excellent job embodying all that is Star Trek for some eats and treats.

Of course the Tribbles made an appearance, in the form of paleo coconut macaroons!

Mool {Vegan Beer Baked Beans} and Hasperat {Spicy Pepper Vegan Pinwheels} - Another "Star Trek: First Contact" Party! |

Tribble Coconut Macaroons – I think Kirk would have preferred these to the actual Tribbles!

Odo’s baked Bruschetta was a popular snack. Picard’s cheese board delighted all. Isolinear chips & dip were nice to nibble on. Polarity-Reversing Gravity Bombs were sure to knock us back a lightyear or two. Alvinian Melons provided a fruity side, along with some Vulcan vegetables.

Science and Engineering cupcakes brought some sweetness to our away missions (you’ll notice the red shirts were mysteriously gone…). I made these paleo chocolate cupcakes, which are gluten- and dairy-free, and topped them with mint and orange versions of the frosting from last year’s Cellular Peptide cake!

Mool {Vegan Beer Baked Beans} and Hasperat {Spicy Pepper Vegan Pinwheels} - Another "Star Trek: First Contact" Party! |

Science & Engineering cupcakes!

Bajoran Hasperat gave us something spicy to enjoy. Traditionally, “it was made using a specially prepared brine, which if made correctly would cause the eyes to water and sear the tongue.” However, in an effort so spare our eyes and tongues, I simply made pinwheels using low carb tortillas, plain vegan cream cheese, hot sauce and sweet red peppers. Details below!

Mool {Vegan Beer Baked Beans} and Hasperat {Spicy Pepper Vegan Pinwheels} - Another "Star Trek: First Contact" Party! |

Bajoran Hasperat makes a delicious pinwheel appetizer!

Finally, I made “Mool,” which is essentially a pot of baked beans, but way better! This is a slow cooker recipe, which makes it perfect for chilly days or busy parties. These beans are vegan, with no added fat. Oh, and they’re made with a bottle of beer, so you know it’s gonna be good 🙂 See below for the recipe!

Mool {Vegan Beer Baked Beans} and Hasperat {Spicy Pepper Vegan Pinwheels} - Another "Star Trek: First Contact" Party! |

These beer baked beans are great no matter the occasion!

Hasperat {Spicy Pepper Vegan Pinwheels}, adapted from the Star Trek Cookbook

Makes 24 Pinwheels

  • 6 8″ low carb tortillas
  • 6 tbsp plain vegan cream cheese
  • 6 sweet twister peppers
  • 6 tsp hot sauce (more or less, to your liking)

Cut the tops and tips off of the peppers. Remove seeds and slice them thinly, lengthwise.

Spread one tablespoon of cream cheese onto a tortilla. In a line down the middle, drizzle/spread a teaspoon of hot sauce. Lay one pepper’s worth of slices onto the tortilla and roll it up tightly, as you would sushi. Slice off the ends of the rolled tortilla, then cut each tortilla into 4 equal pinwheels.

Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve with toothpicks on the side. You’ll notice that I made half of mine “mild” – I left off the hot sauce because not all of our guests like spicy foods.

Mool {Vegan Beer Baked Beans}, adapted from the Star Trek Cookbook

Serves 6-8

  • 1 lb dried Navy beans
  • Water to cover, plus about 2 cups to add halfway through
  • 1 bottle beer (such as a Maple Scotch ale)
  • ¼ C molasses
  • 2 tbsp German mustard
  • 2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients, except* the two extra cups of water, into your crockpot. Turn it on high and let cook for 8-10 hours.

About half way through, add the extra water and stir. This is necessary so your beans don’t burn, and they become cooked through.

*If you will be gone for the duration of cooking time, just add the extra water at the beginning with everything else.

Spicy One-Pot Southwestern Pasta

30 Mar

One-pot dishes have clearly taken off recently. What’s not to love about healthy meals cooked in one pot (with usually just one cutting board and one knife for prep), that are ready in a half hour from start to finish?

Spicy One-Pot Southwestern Pasta |

Not all meals need to be multi-part gourmet dinners that are composed of five dishes! This one-pot pasta is too easy – whole wheat pasta joins a pot of water with black beans, bell pepper, onion, celery, and seasonings for a protein- and fiber-packed dish that’s perfect for busy weeknights or after a workout. Kick up the spice factor by stirring in some hot sauce before serving!

Spicy One-Pot Southwestern Pasta

Serves 4

  • 2 C water
  • 8 oz whole wheat pasta, such as penne, macaroni or shells
  • 1 can or 1.5 C black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic, or 2 cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • Shredded cheddar, option, to serve

Place all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, remove lid and let cook about 8-10 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed/evaporated.

Stir in the hot sauce and serve into bowls. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

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