Archives for protein

Coco-Walnut Power Brownies

One night after dinner, Mr. Zucchini Runner looked at me and asked, “What’s for dessert?” ­čÖé We didn’t have anything – it needed to be created – so that’s exactly what I did. After staring at the pantry and analyzing the ingredients we had, I landed on brownies. As I was mixing up the batter, trying to keep it as healthy as I could, the batter was not giving me a promising taste. Gluten free flours never taste good raw however, so I was still hopeful that the baking process would make these magical. (Keep in mind, there is spelt flour too which contains gluten – it was the garbanzo bean flour that didn’t taste great.)

Mr. Zucchini Runner took the first bite after a painful 30 minutes of cooling from the oven, and made a very stoic face. I was nervous. Then he started to smirk and eventually said, “These are absolutely incredible.” I quickly cut myself a piece and was relieved to find out they did taste exceptionally delicious, especially considering I didn’t follow a recipe at all. It was a baking miracle… at least for me. I was pretty happy, but still not certain they were blog worthy. So, of course we needed more opinions.

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After dropping off two lonely brownies to Mr. Zucchini Runner’s brother and sister-in-law, during a Thanksgiving evening visit, I was anxiously awaiting their reaction the next morning. The text I received SEALED THE DEAL. I believe one of the adjectives she used was divine – and this gal KNOWS her sweets, as co-owner of Dixie Lou Cupcakes! So, enough talking these things up, I don’t want it to be detrimental to them!

I will say the best part, is they can be slightly modified and double as a power brownie, used before or after a workout. Don’t worry, I’ll explain more later.

Base recipe:
1/2 c. garbanzo bean flour + 1/2 c. spelt flour (You can also use 1 c. all-purpose gluten free baking flour)
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2 dashes pink Himalayan sea salt

3 tbsp. chia seeds + 1 c. water (let set for at least 5 minutes)

Melt together (microwave or stovetop):
1/4 c. coconut oil, organic, virgin, unrefined is best (see valuable facts about this oil below the slideshow)
1/2 c. maple syrup

1 tea. vanilla extract

Optional add-ins:
1/3 c. dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1  1/2 c. vegan dark chocolate chips, divided into 1 and 1/2 cups

Combine the base recipe in a bowl and set aside. Add chia seeds to 1 cup water and set aside. Heat the coconut oil and maple syrup in the microwave. Once coconut oil is melted, add vanilla extract to mixture. Add chia seeds and water once the seeds have their gel coating; this takes about 5 minutes. Stir well before adding to the base recipe. Stir well to combine. At this point, if you want power brownies just place this mixture into an 8″x8″ pan sprayed with coconut oil. Bake at 350┬░F┬áfor 25-30 minutes, or until the center is cooked through. The good news is, they don’t have any raw eggs or unstable ingredients, so if they are a little undercooked, they will still be amazing.

If you want a true brownie, before adding them to the pan, add coconut flakes, 1/2 c. choc chips and walnuts to the batter and stir to combine. Pour into 8″x8″ pan sprayed with coconut oil. Bake at 350┬░F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top and return to oven for 2-4 minutes to help melt the chips. Remove and use a rubber spatula to spread chips into a smooth frosting. Sprinkle with coconut flakes and/or additional nuts if desired. Allow to cool for 60 minutes before cutting, to allow the chocolate topping to harden up. You can place in the fridge to speed up the process, or just cut into them after 30 minutes like Mr. Zucchini Runner did.

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*Fun facts about coconut oil:
– medium-chain fat, which means is will not store easily in your body, but instead will get burned immediately for energy (which is why this is good for a workout… or recovery after as refueling)
– because it’s a medium-chain fat, it helps you burn more of your stored fats – otherwise known as weight loss and increasing your metabolism
– it doesn’t raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, but will increase HDL (good) cholesterol
– has a similar power of omega-3s to inhibit platelet stickiness and therefore potentially prevent blood clots and stroke
– you can use it as a face moisturizer and lotion (I’ve been trying this for about a week with great success – and I have oily skin!)
These facts were pulled directly from the book The Science of Skinny by Dee McCaffrey, CDC. I’m reading this book currently for my Holistic Nutrition Certification – there is so much more that coconut oil can do! I encourage you to do some of your own research to learn more about this miracle oil.

Quinoa and Zoodle Dinner

This is the coolest kitchen tool I’ve purchased in 2013. I love it! Dan and I frequent the local vegan restaurants and they’ve all started using this tool when creating their dishes. I knew I needed to find a way to get one too! Thank you Amazon. ­čÖé


This dish was pretty quick and easy to make and its packed with protein and veggies too!

You’ll need:

3/4 c. rinsed quinoa
1 1/2 c. water
1 clove of pressed garlic
1/2 c. chopped kale, spinach or other greens
1/2 c. canned butternut squash pur├ęe

1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 c. of chopped onions
1 clove of pressed garlic
1/4 to 1/2 c. of water
1 – 6 oz. can of tomato paste
2 diced and seeded tomatoes
few dashes of salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

4 small green zucchini (you could also just use spaghetti squash, or pasta)

Start cooking rinsed quinoa, with water and garlic in a saucepan on medium heat. Cover and cook for about 14 minutes once it starts to simmer, turning heat to low if needed. While the quinoa cooks, you can start the sauce!

In a shallow saucepan, heat olive oil with chopped onions and pressed garlic. Once the onions are translucent, add ~ 1/4 to 1/2 c. of water (depending on how thick you like your sauce). Add tomato paste, and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Add a few dashes of salt, and dried herbs. Keep heat on low and stir occasionally. Add more water for a thinner sauce.

By now the quinoa should be done cooking. Scoop out a 1/2 c. of the sauce with a measuring cup and pour it over the cooked quinoa. Also add the butternut squash and greens at this time. Mix well. Salt to taste if desired and mix again.

Using a cookie scoop or small ice cream scoop, measure out the quinoa balls onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. I was able to make 20 balls with this recipe. Bake at 350┬░F to 10-15 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and golden brown.

This is a perfect time to make your zucchini noodles! Once they are all cut into noodles, place in a saucepan and spray with a little olive oil and sprinkle a few dashes of salt. Cover and let cook on med-low heat for roughly 5-10 minutes, depending on desired  tenderness. I prepared ours al dente!

Plate the zucchini first, topping with tomato sauce and 5-6 quinoa balls.

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