Healthy Nutty Brownie

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Another week has flown by and I feel as if my to do list continues to build and the counter to try and get things done is getting shorter and shorter. 14 days left of school. 21 calendar days left before school is out, but we all know it is really only 2 days until Memorial Day weekend and isn’t that the starting point of summer.

Summer is the time at which motherhood becomes more enjoyable, at least for a few days. No early morning alarm wake ups, no lunches have to be packed unless they are for everyone to enjoy by the pool. However it also means a period of twelve weeks when a lot less gets done outside the necessary – laundry, cleaning, cooking because it is exhausting and time consuming watching the kids splash with their friends in the pool. Right?

Wow swim team practice began this week and the pools are open. Let me just say I am glad it is the kids and not me. The temperatures have been volatile this spring. No gradual warm up just big jumps and dips from winter rain to summer heat and the last few nights we have had lows in the 50’s. To some that may make for refreshing water. To me I have another term for it…COLD.

I find in the summer the children tend to get hungry from all that swimming.  It is so easy to toss a bag of chips or pretzels in the pool bag, but is that really the greatest snack?  Fruit is always a good choice, but depending on whether you take a cooler or not it can get warm and mushy.  Everyone loves chocolate especially kids, but granola bars or any mixture or anything with chocolate tends not to hold up in the summer heat.  So when I came across this recipe, I thought I would give it a try.

Who would not feel good about feeding their family a brownie that has five ingredients and provides protein, fiber, and some Omega 3’s.

This recipe was adapted from  5 minute espresso walnut brownies 

Healthy Nutty Brownie

1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, divided
1 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
2 – 2 1/2 cups Medjool or Deglet Nour dates, pitted
3/4 cup cocoa powder OR raw cacao if you have it
1 tsp. instant espresso

Place 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup almonds in food processor and process until finely ground.
Add the cocoa powder or cacao, instant espresso  and pulse to combine and then transfer to bowl and set aside.
Add the dates to the food processor and process until small bits remain. Remove from bowl and set aside.
Add nut and cocoa mixture back into food processor and while processing, drop small handfuls of the date pieces down into the food processor spout. Process until a dough consistency is achieved, adding more dates if the mixture does not hold together when squeezed in your hand.
Add the brownie mixture to a small parchment lined cake pan or loaf pan and add remaining 1/2 cup roughly roughly chopped walnuts. Toss to combine and evenly distribute, and then press down with you hands until it is flat and firm.
Place in freezer or fridge to chill before cutting. Store in an airtight container to keep fresh. Will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks and in the freezer for at least 2 months.

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While I found the flavor a little too strong initially after sitting in the refrigerator for 24 hours they were better.  Unfortunately Little Miss Mixture was not a big fan and the consistency was too crumbly to make a good take along snack.  However if you are looking for a nice little bit (1×2 square) the Healthy Nutty Brownie is great for curbing hungry while satisfying your sweet tooth as well.

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Ladies are you ready for the best day ever?

You have been waiting all year for this day.   NO I am not talking about Mother’s Day that is great and all and those of us that are mother’s may get a little break from our everyday duties.  Maybe someone else will take care of the kids, the dishes, the animals, the laundry, etc.

I am talking about ” EAT WHAT YOU WANT DAY”  Woo Hoo this is it the excuse you have been waiting for to indulge and not feel bad.  Oh and did I mention it just happens to coincide with that other holiday this weekend the one you may receive flowers or candy for or get the day off and go to a restaurant.  Yes two days in one Happy Mother’s Day and Eat What you want Day.

So how will you celebrate?

Baked Brownie

I love an excuse to make something rich and chocolatey.  So here it is, my gift to myself to celebrate and yes I might share a piece or maybe two with someone else in the house.  If they are really good to me for Mother’s Day that is. (Hint Hint.. hope you are ready Mr. Mixture or Little Miss Mixture)

When it comes to brownies, this is one food I have been consistently making for years.  There are lots of brownie recipes and while they all have there place when I want a brownie I  find myself to be a brownie purest. Simple, rich, and pure chocolate.  For years I made the One Bowl Brownie and in my opinion perfected it as I knew exactly how long to cook it so that the edges were done and the middle was a little on the raw side, which is just the way I like my brownies.  For the last several years the Baked brownie has been my go to for strictly consumption by itself or a la mode.  As I said there is a place for all the different types of brownies.  This may not be the perfect brownie for cutting and displaying or at least the way I make it, but trust me good food doesn’t always have to look good and I have never had a complaint regarding the looks of these brownies.

Baked Brownie

1 1/4 Cups all – purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 -13 oz chocolate, coarsely chopped (see note at bottom)
1 Cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 – inch pieces (8 ounces)
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
flour

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DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored baking pan with butter or cooking spray.  The original recipe I found called for a 9×13, but I accidentally used a 9×11.  Either works you simply may need to adjust the cooking time for the smaller pan since the brownies will be thicker.  Line the pan with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.
3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.  In using different chocolates I try to ensure all pieces are similar in size which sometimes requires cutting, breaking, or shaving chocolate.  The more consistent the pieces are in size the more evenly the chocolate melts and mixes to a smooth consistency.  Turn off the heat and keep the bowl over the water.  Mix in the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan.
4. Whisk in 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and until completely combined.  Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk.  Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
5. Mix the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just barely mixed, allowing some flour to still be visible.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.  Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper.
7. Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap in foil or plastic wrap.

Note:  This particular batch was made with a combination of  dark chocolate bars and semi sweet. I used almost 8oz-10oz Semi Sweet Chocolate chips,  2 72% bars (1.65 each).  Depending on the chocolate I have I have used special dark, baking chocolate, etc.  Each time they turn our rich and delicious.

The Baked Brownie  This link will allow you to print the recipe.

Remember to have a cold glass of milk or a nice red wine to enjoy with your brownie.

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Warning – If you plan on slicing and eating this or serving it on a platter at a party or other occasion, I suggest you cook it an additional 3-5 minutes.  My version increases the chocolate slightly from the original recipe and while it is perfect for consumption (slightly raw) it is difficult to cut and have look good.

 

Enjoy both holidays and remember every day can be “eat what you want day” as all food has a place and enjoying what you eat and the experience is part of what makes food so good.

 

No Bake Protein Packed Rice Crispy Bars

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Snacks at school have been a challenge for our family as I try very hard to send something healthy that includes protein.  Enter the nut free zone and your choices quickly diminish.  When first hearing of the nut free classroom, I went in search of healthy granola type bars and other items that were nut free and nutritious.  You are probably thinking yogurt and cheese are perfect, but my daughter has the early lunch this year so snack is in the afternoon, and I just do not love the idea of dairy products being in her bag for over 6 hours before being consumed.  The other part of that Little Miss Mixture likes cheese and crackers in her lunch several days a week and often consumes yogurt for breakfast. BORING who wants to repeat the same food items several times a day.

I found a recipe for Puffed Quinoa and thought perfect until I found none of the stores in town sell puffed quinoa and it takes about 72 hours to make it yourself.  I love to cook but I draw the line on things that take days to prepare.  I just do not see the value and doubt many people would be interested in a recipe like that.  So I adapted the recipe using rice krispies because they are a simple nut free cereal. The result was a deliciously sweet bar that everyone enjoyed.

This is a simple recipe that can be changed to meet your taste or food preferences.  No reason to go nut free, try Peanut Butter or Almond Butter, both pair nicely with some chocolate on top.

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Protein Packed Rice Crispy Bars

2 cups Crisp Rice Cereal (Rice Krispies)

1 cup Sunbutter, or Nut Butter of Choice

6 Tbsp. Agave Nectar (Maple Syrup can be substituted)

2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Optional : Chocolate of choice, melted

In a mixing bowl, combine Sunbutter, agave, and vanilla.  If the mixture is too firm, you can heat it slightly on the stove top or microwave.  Be careful not to cook, simply warm to mix thoroughly. Add puffed cereal and stir until coated well.  At this point the mixture is stick.  You can place mixture in fridge to firm up for 15 minutes and then press into bar form, or in a hurry press into a prepared 8×8 square pan.  Allow to firm in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

Optional: Melt chocolate to drizzle or coat the top of the bars.  I went a little heavy on the chocolate,   You can never have too much chocolate in my opinion.  I used 52% cocoa chocolate chips.  Once the desired amount of chocolate is on the bars return to refrigerator to set.  Slice into bars and enjoy or wrap for snacks throughout the week.

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