A rich, moist dessert with few of the typical brownie ingredients.
Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the greatest threat to the lives of women and men in the world? Women with PCOS commonly experience metabolic syndrome which increases the risk of developing heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions including elevated triglycerides, high “bad” cholesterol, low “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and increased belly fat.
Fortunately, each day most of us can help decrease our risk of developing heart disease. Nutritional intake is important with some evidence suggesting to decrease saturated fats and other evidence to decrease trans fats. Decreasing salt intake is also recommended while increasing phytonutrient, fiber-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables. Secondly, regular exercise can reduce body weight, blood pressure, “bad ” cholesterol and increase insulin sensitivity. In addition, sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and related conditions. Finally, quitting smoking is the single greatest change one can make to improve their heart and overall health.
Now you may be wondering where brownies fit into this heart-healthy lifestyle I speak of. Surprisingly, these delicious, fudgy treats are primarily made from black beans and unsweetened cocoa powder! Carry on to find out how these two ingredients can make a crowd-pleasing dessert that can support a healthy heart. PS. The trick is to not reveal the ingredients until AFTER your loved ones have tried the brownies. I promise they will be shocked. I would love to hear what you do to protect your heart!
- 2 cups dried black beans (must pre-soak and boil)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil, though may not be as heart-healthy)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (>75% real cocoa)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Blend all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor until completely smooth.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Pour into an 8×8 pan pre-greased with olive oil.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes being careful not to overcook as this could dry them out.
- Let brownies cool before cutting. I popped these in the freezer to firm up even more.
- black beans = high in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6 and phytonutrients which help lower blood pressure, manage blood sugar levels and prevent cardiovascular disease, contains several flavonoids including quercetin which is anti-inflammatory and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis
- unsweetened cocoa powder = supports the cardiovascular system by enhancing vascular function and decreasing platelet reactivity, may help improve cholesterol levels, been shown to improve cognitive function, insulin resistance and blood pressure
Cocktail-inspired, dairy-free cupcakes for your Spring celebrations (no artificial food coloring!).
I welcomed Spring Equinox with my first vegan cupcake experiment. Now, I’m not suggesting cupcakes are the next superfood but, for special occasions, this recipe is on the healthier side. Firstly, I replaced white flour with whole wheat flour. This increases fiber content which helps manage blood sugar spikes. Secondly, these are dairy-free which may be beneficial for PCOS-fighters. Finally, instead of using artificial food coloring, I added beet juice! I can proudly say the taste was unaffected and I avoided the toxic chemicals in food dye. Please leave a comment if you have a tip for coloring desserts naturally!
Cupcake Ingredients (makes 12):
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance dairy-free butter
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup soy yogurt
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (or gluten-free alternative)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp almond milk
- 1 cup Earth Balance dairy-free butter
- 2-3 cups of powdered sugar
- 3 tsp beet juice, from canned beets
Cupcake How To:
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
- Place 12 liners in a cupcake pan.
- Cream the butter and sugars until smooth.
- Mix in yogurt, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until combined.
- Sift in flour and baking powder whisking until just combined.
- Scoop batter into cupcake liners filling up just past half full.
- Bake for about 18 minutes (check that a toothpick comes out clean).
- Cool cupcakes on a wire rack.
Frosting How To:
- Refrigerate can of coconut milk overnight. In the morning a hardened top layer should have formed which you can scoop out (apparently the occasional can won’t do this).
- Mix the hardened coconut milk, vanilla, and almond milk in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Beat butter in a large bowl until smooth.
- Add 2 cups of powdered sugar to the butter in 1/2 cup batches.
- Once combined, add the coconut milk mixture.
- Whip on high for 3 minutes or until the mixture gets glossy.
- Add beet juice in teaspoons at a time until you reach the vibrancy you want.
- Add more sugar if the frosting is still runny or refrigerate frosting until it is firm enough to stay put.
- Pipe icing on cooled cupcakes. Note: The amount of frosting I used as pictured was very sweet so I will use less next time.
- Keep cupcakes in fridge until ready to serve to ensure frosting holds its shape.
Notes: Lemonade cupcake adapted from Cheers to Vegan Sweets and frosting adapted from Delia Creates.
Raw, sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate eggs using 5 ingredients.
Who doesn’t love an egg hunt? Dairy-free chocolate eggs are hard to come by, but very easy to make. Did you know eggs and bunnies are symbols of spring and fertility? According to Gaelic, Druid and Pagan beliefs, Eostre is the Goddess of Spring, Fertility and New Life, all beautiful things worth celebrating this weekend. So with just 5 ingredients and no baking required, you can whip these up tonight!
Ingredients (makes 9):
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
- ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 0.5 – 1 pint of organic raspberries
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- mini muffin pan or chocolate mold
- Melt coconut oil by warming its jar in a bowl of hot water.
- Use a food processor or blender to puree raspberries (or mash by hand).
- Pour raspberries into a small mixing bowl and add all other ingredients.
- Whisk until well-combined.
- Scoop spoonfuls into your mold or unlined muffin pan.
- Freeze overnight.
- In the morning use a knife to loosen the edges of each chocolate. They should pop out. If not, freeze for longer.
- Keep cool in freezer or fridge until eaten.
- cocoa powder (cacao is even better) = high in antioxidants, may lower LDL cholesterol, can reduce high blood pressure, and may act as an antidepressant
- coconut oil = anti-inflammatory, may positively impact thyroid function, may improve cholesterol profiles by increasing HDL cholesterol, use is controversial in the scientific community due to high saturated fat content so I use in moderation
- raspberries = low glycemic load, high in antioxidants, high in fibre, may help lower inflammation
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