Category Archives: Bars/Squares

Black Bean Brownies

My friend Katie is joining the Peace Corps, and leaves for Togo tomorrow! Since she’ll be in Africa for the next couple of years, a few of my high school friends and I slept over at her house last night to hang out for the last time before she leaves. Yes, we are all college graduates and we still have sleepovers! 🙂

Lots of awesome food was consumed including various desserts baked by Katie’s mom, chocolate (!) beer, and Jeni’s goat cheese and cognac fig ice cream that I brought, which originated in Ohio! (Ohio has grown on me over the past four years, but Oregon will always be #1 in my heart!).

Also, we had homemade waffles and yak/bison sausages from the farmer’s market for breakfast! Plus MORE cookies and chips. Basically, I had a TON of junk food this weekend, and not much of my usual oatmeal, kale salads, tofu, etc. I am definitely in need of some healthier eats this week.

But of course there is no way that I can eliminate sweets from my diet completely, so I just decided to make a healthier version of one of my favorite desserts. I’ve been on a put-weird-ingredients-in-my-dessert kick lately. Last week it was chickpeas in my blondies and avocado in my cake. Today, I put black beans in my brownies.

I know it sounds pretty unappetizing, but they tasted just like regular brownies. They are delightfully chocolatey, super fudgey, and not beany at all! If I hadn’t made these myself, I would never have guessed that the main ingredient was a can of black beans. Also, these brownies are completely gluten-free and oil-free! Pretty unbelievable, right? You MUST try them for yourself!

Black Bean Brownies

Source: adapted from Amy Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  •  1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Place black beans, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, eggs, instant coffee, and vanilla extract in a food processor and process until completely smooth and well-combined.

3. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Bake in preheated oven for 26-30 minutes, or until top is dry and edges begin to pull away from baking dish. Cool brownies completely in pan before cutting into squares.

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Peanut Butter Chickpea Blondies

Eating a healthy diet at home has been such a challenge! I’ve been home for less than a week and I’ve eaten a bucket of peanut M&Ms and about 10 pounds of dark chocolate by myself! I wish I was kidding. At school, I rarely bought packaged snacks because I knew there was no way I could control myself around them, but there is an abundance of chips, cookies, and candy in our pantry, and I just can’t seem to stay away from it all!

At least most of my meals have been pretty healthy. My mom always stocks the fridge with a variety of fresh, organic produce and dairy that I never buy at school because I’m too cheap. I love it! The other day I had Greek yogurt topped with chopped mango and kiwi for breakfast. And for lunch, I made myself a humongous salad with kale, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, and a hard-boiled egg. Yum!

I’m trying to convince my meat-loving family members to eat more veggies too. I put some raw kale on the table for dinner the other day and my dad asked, “What IS that?” with a very skeptical look on his face. Then I made these chickpea blondies for dessert and my sister told me she wanted to throw up (she’s a little dramatic).

I know that most people would agree with her after hearing that these blondies are made with garbanzo beans, but honestly, these blondies are REALLY good!! Obviously they’re not super sweet and buttery like regular blondies, but they’re still quite fudgey and delicious. Plus, they’re vegan, so you can eat as much of the raw batter as you’d like, which I think is even BETTER than the baked blondies. It tastes like Snickerdoodle Dessert Hummus!!

I ate wayyy more than my share of these chickpea blondies, and even my sister ate a couple after I told her that there were chocolate chips in them. She proclaimed them “gross,” but at least she tried them, right? Baby steps! 🙂

Chickpea Blondies

Source: adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.
2. Place all ingredients (except chocolate chips and walnuts) in a food processor and process until completely smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Do not overbake.


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Snickerdoodle Blondies

There’s less than one week left until Easter! I can’t believe I’ve made it this far without eating (almost) any sugar. I will admit, it hasn’t exactly been a cake walk. In the beginning, I was feeling motivated and cheerful despite not being able to indulge in some of my favorite treats. I baked a lot of naturally sweetened desserts, so I actually didn’t miss sugar too much.

But as the weeks pass by, it’s been getting harder and harder to stay committed and maintain a positive attitude. There are times when I feel like ripping out my hair because I want some sugar SO BAD. This usually happens when I’m feeling stressed out or upset, and I question why I even decided to give up sugar in the first place.  Not being able to have sugar when I want it most makes me an incredibly unpleasant person to be around.

And it’s not just sweets. Due to the added sugar, I can’t eat bread, granola bars, cold cereal, certain nut butters, certain dried fruit, ketchup, sriracha sauce, Dijon mustard, etc., etc., etc. It’s a pain trying to plan meals with no added sugar, and eating out is stressful too.

Miraculously, I’ve made it this far and there are just a few more days to go. The boyfriend, Ahra, and Deborah have all been so encouraging and patient with me during this time. They listen to me complain and deal with my irritable moods and try all the products of my (sometimes not so successful) sugar-free baking experiments. Basically, they are awesome. 🙂

I’m sure they’re pretty sick of all the oats, dates, bananas, and raisins by now, so I decided to bake them some nice and sugary snickerdoodle blondies, which they loved – especially Deborah. 🙂 I can’t comment on the taste, but the cinnamon-y sweet smell was almost too much for me to resist!  I froze a couple of squares for myself to try once Lent is over and now I’m counting down the days until I can devour them!!

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Source: Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time, and then vanilla. Beat until thoroughly combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula. Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over top of batter.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes in preheated oven, until surface springs back when lightly pressed. Cool completely in pan before cutting. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Quinoa Oatmeal Bars

I had a minor freakout this morning because I realized that a) I only have two (!) more weeks of classes until finals, and b) my last year of undergrad is almost over!!  Before then I have multiple end-of-the-semester papers, presentations, and exams. Things are going to be a little hectic for the next few weeks, to say the least.

Also, in exactly one month from today, just a few days before graduation, my dad and I will be driving down to Charlottesville, VA. I’ve decided to attend the University of Virginia for grad school starting in the fall, so we need to find me a place to live!

Everything is happening so quickly! It’s exciting, but somewhat stressful, too. I have about a zillion things on my plate right now, so I did what I always do when I’m feeling overwhelmed – bake! 🙂

I wanted to make something similar to the oatmeal snack bars that I’ve been taking with me whenever I leave home for more than a couple of hours. For these bars, I added some raw quinoa along with the oats, used 3 different dried fruits, whole almonds, and some mashed bananas.  Then I blended everything up in my handy-dandy food processor! 🙂

I think these are my new favorite snack bars! The sweetness from the banana and dried fruits is so delish, and I loveeee the added crunch from the quinoa. I made these bars because they are free of added sugar, but I’ll definitely still be making them often even after Lent is over. 🙂

Quinoa Oatmeal Bars

Source: adapted from Anja’s Food 4 Thought

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup whole almonds
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup zante currants
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 medium overripe bananas
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a 9×9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

2. Combine oats, almonds, raisins, dates, currants, and salt in a food processor and process until ingredients are finely chopped.

3. Mash bananas and cinnamon in a small bowl, then add them to the food processor. Pulse until well-combined.

4. Scrape mixture into prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, and let cool completely before cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container.

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No Bake Cinnamon Almond Date Squares

This past weekend, I went to Toronto with Ahra and Deborah. We slept in a luxurious hotel, went sight-seeing, shopped, and ate an astonishing amount of food. As always, it was so nice to get away from campus for a couple of days and explore a new city. 🙂

I am going to admit that I caved and had sugar. A LOT of it. It was entirely too difficult to be surrounded by so many wonderful food options and not eat sugar. We indulged in frozen yogurt, Belgian waffles, crepes, bubble tea, Chinese pastries, and more.

At first, I felt extremely guilty, but I decided not to beat myself up about it. I know I am not perfect, so I am just going to move on and continue with my sugar fast for the remainder of Lent. 🙂

I think my body was shocked at the amount of sugar I consumed this weekend. I felt absolutely GROSS when we got home on Sunday night. I’ve been recovering from my sugar overload by packing my meals with whole grains, fruits, veggies, and protein.

But of course I can’t go long without something a little sweet. 🙂 I was debating whether to make another batch of cocoa date cookies or oatmeal raisin walnut cookies, when I saw a recipe for no bake vegan date squares on Oh She Glows that featured two of my most favorite ingredients: oats and dates!

The original recipe called for coconut oil, which I think would have added a lovely subtle flavor, but unfortunately I didn’t have any, so I used unsalted butter instead (de-veganizing the recipe). Also, I threw some cinnamon into both the crust and filling because I’ve been loving it so much lately.

The bars were fantastic! The nutty crust paired with the sticky sweet date filling was delicious. I’m loving all of the sugar-free treats that I’ve been baking lately because they are healthy enough to eat for breakfast, and they are a great energy-boosting snack. So basically, I can have a guilt-free dessert any time of day!

No Bake Date Squares

Source: adapted from Oh She Glows, originally from KB Blissologist

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pitted dates, packed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 1 cup pitted dates, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

1. Line a 8×4 inch pan with parchment paper.

2. In a food processor, process almonds, oats, cinnamon, and salt until coarse flour forms. Add 1/4 cup dates and process until crumbly. Add butter and process until mixture is sticky. Set aside about 1/3 cup of the mixture and press the rest firmly and evenly into the prepared pan.

3. To make the filling, process 1 cup dates, cinnamon, and water in food processor until a paste forms, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl often. Scrape date paste onto prepared crust and spread evenly with a spatula.

4. Sprinkle 1/3 cup reserved crumb mixture on top of date paste and press down gently with fingers. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, before cutting into squares. Store date squares in fridge or freezer.

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Oatmeal Snack Bars

Cutting out sugar from my diet has been MUCH easier than I originially anticipated. I thought I’d be going through severe sugar withdrawal and frantically searching the cupboards  for something sweet to snack on, but so far, I’ve been able to control my cravings pretty well. 🙂

Don’t get me wrong – I definitely miss eating dessert, and at times, I’d give anything to sink my teeth into one of the salted fudge brownies I have stashed in the freezer. And it takes an incredible amount of self-control for me to not eat a huge spoonful of batter when I’m baking a batch of blueberry muffins for my suitemates.

Also, because there is sugar in practically EVERYTHING, I’ve had to stay away from some of the foods that I use to eat on almost a daily basis. Since I can’t grab my usual almond butter and honey sandwich or Kashi granola bar, I had to find another on-the-go snack option.

Thankfully, I found this awesome recipe for oatmeal snack bars. They contain absolutely zero added sugar, but I didn’t miss it one bit! There was plenty of sweetness from the raisins, and lots of flavor from the oats, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon. Plus, they are super nutritious as they are full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

I threw one of these in my bag before I left for work this morning, and I enjoyed it for my afternoon snack. It was great – filling and delicious! I love the chewy texture. These oatmeal bars are so good that I’d even eat them for dessert!

Oatmeal Snack Bars

Source: adapted from Kath Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, applesauce, egg, and vanilla.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in sunflower seeds and walnuts.

4. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars or squares.

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Salted Fudge Brownies

I woke up this morning to discover that the university is closed today due to the inclement weather. Of course, during my 3.5 years in college, the only day the university closes is on the day that I have no classes!

Anyways, it’s been a week and a half since Valentine’s Day, and I STILL haven’t eaten any of the chocolate I got for the occassion. The only Valentine’s Day candy that I’ve had are a couple of the ginger-flavored hard candies that Ahra gave me. This is really strange because normally I can’t be in the same room with a box of dark chocolates without devouring the whole thing in one sitting!

I think the boyfriend is a little concerned that I haven’t even eaten ONE of the fancy chocolates that he gifted me on V-Day. Every time he sees the completely untouched box, he asks me when I plan on eating them. 🙂

It’s not that I don’t want to eat the chocolates, it’s just that there are currently so many other wonderful chocolate treats around captivating my attention! Like the AMAZING salted fudge brownies I made on Wednesday night. Oh. My. Gosh.

These are, without a doubt, the most fabulous brownies I have ever made. They are wonderfully fudgy and super chocolatey. Simply divine! The sea salted swirled into the batter just takes them over the top! The only thing I would do differently is to reduce the baking time (my oven is on the hot side), for a slightly gooey-er brownie. Mmm. 🙂

If you are still scared of salty sweets, I suggest you get over your fear FAST, because you are missing out! You NEED these brownies in your life! 🙂

Salted Fudge Brownies

Source: Food and Wine

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil, folding the foil over the edges. Lightly butter the foil.

2. In a small saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.

3. Whisk cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and flour one at a time into the butter/chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.

4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle sea salt over top of batter and use a butter knife to swirl the salt into the batter.

5. Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes, until edges are set, but center is still soft and a toothpick inserted into center comes out coated with a bit of batter.

6. Let brownies cool in pan for 1 hour, then refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Lift the brownies out of the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into 16 squares and serve at room temperature.

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